EU HyICE project results in the first ever successful transatlantic hydrogen-cooperation.

Ten European partners have completed the HyICE project - Optimization of the Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine three years after the project first began. This initiative, which was promoted by the EU Commission, has resulted in a combustion engine fueled by hydrogen that offers clear advantages over other propulsion systems in terms of performance and costs. The project team consists of companies from the automotive industry, their supplier companies and two Universities. This project, which was coordinated by BMW Group Research and Technology, developed two concepts of mixture formation, which were approved on engines for passenger cars as well as for citybuses. The necessary key components were also developed. In addition, relevant simulation tools have been adopted to Hydrogen combustion to support the development process of future production engines. Furthermore, the top European hydrogen experts shared their findings on a regular basis with researchers from the US Department of Energy. This makes HyICE the first project of its kind within the EU Commission.

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EU Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potocnik said: "The HyICE project clearly demonstrates the key role of EU research in reducing dependency towards fossil fuels. This is an example of successful EU investment in pre-competitive research, with a potential impact reaching way beyond Europe’s borders. The results achieved with a hydrogen combustion engine should encourage industry to develop this form of mobility further. This is a key contribution to preserve the environment and to keep Europe at the forefront of global competition"

In March 2003, the then EU Commissioner for Research, Philippe Busquin, and the State Secretary of the US Department of Energy, Spencer Abraham, decided to share research findings more intensively between their respective continents. The aim of this project for the EU was to promote cooperation on topics such as climate change and energy in the Sixth Framework Program and to develop visions for hydrogen energy sources and alternative drives.

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With a distinct performance of 100 kW per liter cubic capacity (displacement), the experts of HyICE have demonstrated that the hydrogen engine is a technology for the future which matches performance-wise with conventional engines. This was the first time researchers were able to concentrate exclusively on the hydrogen combustion engine and were thus able to fully utilize the specific properties of hydrogen. Up until now, hydrogen combustion engines were designed for both, gasoline and hydrogen usage due to missing hydrogen infrastructure. With this new technology hydrogen usage can be optimised.
Graz University of Technology, Hoerbiger Valve Tec, MAN Nutzfahrzeuge, Volvo Technology and BMW Group Research and Technology developed and tested two concepts of mixture formation for this purpose: direct injection and external cold mixture formation. In both methods performance was doubled while consumption was reduced.

Together with BMW Group Research and Technology, the Swedish company Mecel Engine Systems developed an ignition system which is accurately tailored to the far-reaching flammability limits of hydrogen. This has increased efficiency and reduced consumption. In order to make the properties of hydrogen more transparent for future series developments, the IFP (French Institut Francais du Petrole) and the German University of the Federal Armed Forces developed two simulation models for hydrogen combustion in the cylinder. Using the optical engine from the Graz University of Technology, the researchers succeeded in observing the combustion behavior of hydrogen and checking the computer-aided calculation models. These models were then incorporated into the commercial calculation tool Ansys CFX, developed by Ansys Germany.

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To extract the maximum benefit out of all efforts made at both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the Ford Research Center in Aachen built the transatlantic bridges and coordinated the sharing of findings between the EU researchers and the US hydrogen specialists. Alongside HyICE, the US Department of Energy is also promoting a hydrogen engine project initiated by Ford (USA). It has commissioned two National Laboratories in Illinois and California, as well as North American Universities to carry out this work.

In conclusion, Prof. Raymond Freymann, Head of BMW Group Research and Technology says: "The combustion engine is one of the most highly developed industrial products. Over one hundred years have been invested in its development. It demonstrates high performance levels and variability with low costs and easy maintenance on a daily basis. With the use of hydrogen, it is already providing a well-developed technical solution for sustainable mobility. We are convinced that even in the future individual mobility using the hydrogen combustion engine will remain an attractive method of transportation."

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