- Future Cars
Future Car - Ford's Hydrogen I.C.E.
I.C.E. stands for Internal Combustion Engine. Ford is currently looking at creating a car that will bridge the gap between gasoline power and the very likely future fuel; hydrogen.
The I.C.E. burns hydrogen in a slightly modified Ford engine thus incorporating the "fuel of the future" in the car of today. The idea is to market a car that will use hydrogen without the use of fuel cells and the associated expensive technology to power it.
Since the car is based largely on current technology (even the engine is stock with slight modifications) Ford's intermediate line will be more affordable, rapidly available, and produce nearly zero emissions.
Ford has stated that should the fuel be more widely available they could have the cars powered by hydrogen...immediately. Naturally, because hydrogen burns hotter than gasoline certain engine modifications are necessary. However, the engine block itself is basically the same as a gasoline powered engine. Hydrogen modifications internally are limited to the pistons; all other modifications are "external" to the engine. See list below.
The only other car manufacturer to make these claims is BMW and their efforts are two (2) years off.
Ford Hydrogen V10Click thumbnail to view full-size
The following engine modifications are necessary to run hydrogen instead of gasoline. They are;
- Valves and valve seats must be specially hardened to compensate for reduced lubricating properties. Gasoline, though a fuel, does have some oil like properties that typically keep these engine components properly lubricated...hydrogen does not
- Spark plugs must use iridium to withstand the higher temperatures
- Ignition coils must be different due to the properties of hydrogen as fuel
- Fuel injectors must be designed for a gas not a liquid
- A heftier crankshaft damper compensates for the bigger kick hydrogen fuel provides
- Pistons, connecting rods and piston rings must be able to withstand the higher forces and pressures produced
- Head gasket must be able to withstand the higher combustion pressures
- Intake manifold modified to accommodate a supercharger
- Twin screw supercharger and water-to-air inter-cooler to increase power
- Engine oil must be able to withstand higher temperatures and pressures
- Engine oil system must include a separator to remove any hydrogen that might migrate into the oil
- Exhaust gas system must be able sustain water produced by the hydrogen combustion
As you can see most of the modifications are "bolt-on" not radical redesigns of the engine itself. However, these modifications would add 50% of current engine manufacturing costs to implement bringing the total cost of engine build to one and one half (1.5) times of current costs.
What Remains the Same on the Engine
- The block is unchanged
- The crankshaft itself and the bearings it rides on are the same
This may not seem like much compared to what has been changed, but the most expensive change was to the intake manifold and the addition of a supercharger.
With hydrogen as a fuel, emissions are greatly reduced from those of conventional gasoline engines with current emission control technology. There is a small amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas emissions resulting from the engine oil in the cylinders of most modern engines, it would take over three-hundred (300) hydrogen vehicles to emit the same amount of CO2 as one gasoline fueled vehicle.
Hydrocarbon (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions are one-tenth (1/10) of current requirements and nitric oxide (NOx) emissions are one-fourth (1/4) that of gasoline.
Source: Ford TH!NK Group
Hydrogen I.C.E. vs Fuel-Cell
Ford still believes that fuel cell vehicles will be the future of the car, however, such vehicles are prohibitively expensive. The Hydrogen I.C.E. vehicle will be a much cheaper alternative until costs come down on fuel-cell cars.
"While we still believe fuel cells are the best hope for a zero-emission product to replace the internal combustion engine in the future, (The hydrogen I.C.E.) offers a great opportunity to improve hydrogen infrastructure with a vehicle that is comparatively easy to produce and seamless in customer operation." --John Wallace, Executive Director of Ford's TH!NK Group
Despite the expense of modifying an existing Internal Combustion Engine to run on hydrogen it is still considerably less expensive than the cost of creating a hybrid and trying to market it to a skeptical* car buying public. In other words, a Hydrogen I.C.E. car will be slightly more expensive to produce that a gasoline car, but considerably less expensive than a fuel cell model.
The best news of all is that Ford could have these vehicles in show rooms in very short order.
Ford is working on a hydrogen I.C.E. with hybrid technology. (see below)
* According to some survey results about 80% of Americans doubt a connection between vehicle emissions and global warming and are thus unwilling to pay extra for the technology.
Fuel storage of hydrogen is a major obstacle. Enough fuel to power one of these vehicles for a mere two hundred miles (200) requires storage at five-thousand (5,000) pounds per square inch (PSI). As one might imagine a tank capable of maintaining integrity at over five thousand PSI is quite expensive. Also, because one kilogram of hydrogen is equivalent to one gallon of gas the space required for the tank (even at 5,000 PSI) would take up quite a bit of space; perhaps the size of a standard automobile trunk.
"We’ve demonstrated that hydrogen can be clean and efficient and reliable, but the biggest issue remains how to store enough hydrogen on the vehicle in a given space. The tanks are also still too expensive." -- Bob Natkin, technical leader for H2 IC Engine Applications Research and Advanced Engineering.
Ford Edge Hydrogen Hybrid
Ford Edge HySeries Hybrid
Unlike the Prius (Toyota) and the Insight (Honda), Ford's new hydrogen hybrid combines three technologies to tame emissions. It is a plug in vehicle that charges battery packs and also converts hydrogen to electricity (and water vapor) via fuel cells. The distinct difference here is the regardless of power source all power runs through the batteries before being passed onto the electrical motors.
The advantage of this configuration is that if Ford wanted it could add an engine to this configuration and not have to change the battery pack configuration or electrical motor layout. The net effect is engineering simplification.
With this configuration converting to miles per gallon and round trip distances of fifty (50) miles (or less) the "Edge" is capable of attaining eighty (80mpg) miles per gallon. Longer drives, where electrical regeneration kicks in, will reduce that mileage to forty-one (41mpg) miles per gallon. Still decent for a vehicle this size and weight.
Why is this vehicle mentioned? Ford is talking about adding a hydrogen powered combustion engine to the mix in HySeries vehicles.
This is the second hub in a series on the future of the car. See links below for other hubs on this topic.
Future Car Series
- The Future of the Car
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- Future Car - Chevrolet Volt
The Chevrolet Volt is a range extended electric vehicle.
- Future Car - Ford's Hydrogen I.C.E.
I.C.E. stands for Internal Combustion Engine. Ford is currently looking at creating a car that will bridge the gap between gasoline power and the very likely future fuel; hydrogen. The I.C.E. burns hydrogen...
- Future Car - Chrysler EV Series
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- Future Car - The Problems with Hydrogen
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- Future Car - Toyota / Honda
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- Future Car - Subaru
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- Future Car - Peugeot / Citroën
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- Future Car - Opel
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