Finally good news from automotive industry! Hydrogen is here!

Bosch, an automotive supplier, anticipates that hydrogen technology, such as fuel cells and hydrogen internal combustion, will have a significant impact on the trucking sector in the future. According to a press statement last week that announced the beginning of fuel-cell module manufacturing at Bosch’s Stuttgart-Feuerbach factory in Germany, the firm anticipates revenues of $3.5 billion from fuel cells, hydrogen combustion engines, and electrolyzers that generate hydrogen.

Those first fuel-cell modules will go to Nikola, which plans to start production of its Tre Class 8 fuel-cell semi truck in Coolidge, Arizona, later this year. Nikola also has a license to manufacture Bosch fuel cells at that location. Bosch also plans to manufacture fuel-cell components at its own U.S. plant in Anderson, South Carolina.

Hydrogen combustion

So far EV technology has failed miserably in trucking industry as well as in light truck and van sector. Battery charges have not been sufficient to have a reliable and high milage capable truck or light truck for transportation or for contractors alike. Hydrogen internal combustion engines can and many experts believe will revolutionize automotive industry. Unlimited power, extreme high milage and top towing capability.

By 2030, the business projects that one in every five new trucks sold in the world that weigh more than six tons will have a fuel-cell drivetrain. Bosch, however, is also making investments in hydrogen combustion, which basically burns hydrogen in an internal combustion engine in place of diesel or gasoline to produce power.

In 2024, Bosch intends to introduce a hydrogen combustion engine. The business asserts that it has received four orders for “production projects” thus far and anticipates six-figure sales by 2030.

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Thing from science fiction movies?

Not really.

Hydrogen combustion engine technology involves using hydrogen gas as a fuel source in an internal combustion engine. When hydrogen is burned in the engine, it reacts with oxygen from the air, producing water vapor and releasing energy. This technology is considered a potential alternative to conventional gasoline or diesel engines because it emits only water vapor as a byproduct, making it environmentally friendly.

The concept of using hydrogen as a fuel dates back to the early 1800s, but the development of hydrogen combustion engines gained momentum in the 20th century. One of the pioneering figures in this field was Swiss engineer François Isaac de Rivaz. In 1806, de Rivaz built and tested the first internal combustion engine fueled by a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. His design was based on the principle of igniting the hydrogen mixture with an electric spark, a concept that laid the foundation for future hydrogen engine developments.

Hydrogen vehicle

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, several other inventors and engineers explored hydrogen as a fuel for internal combustion engines, but these early attempts were limited by the availability of hydrogen and the challenges associated with handling and storing the gas.

However, hydrogen combustion engine technology truly gained traction in the latter half of the 20th century and beyond. During the 1970s, in response to the oil crisis, researchers and automotive manufacturers started exploring alternative fuels, including hydrogen, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and curb emissions.

In the 1990s, some car manufacturers, such as BMW, Mercedes and Mazda, developed prototype vehicles equipped with hydrogen combustion engines and conducted tests to assess their feasibility and performance. These early prototypes showcased the potential of hydrogen as a fuel for internal combustion engines.

Since then, research and development in hydrogen engine technology have continued, focusing on improving efficiency, safety, and the practicality of using hydrogen as a mainstream automotive fuel. Today, hydrogen fuel cell technology, which generates electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, is more prevalent in the automotive industry than traditional hydrogen combustion engines. However, hydrogen combustion engines remain an area of research and interest for specific applications, such as stationary power generation and certain niche transportation sectors.

As the world continues to seek sustainable and low-emission energy solutions, hydrogen combustion engine technology remains a part of the broader landscape of hydrogen-based transportation and energy systems. Ongoing developments and advancements in this field will play a significant role in shaping the future of clean and sustainable transportation.

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Bosch: pioneer and visionary

According to Markus Heyn, chairman of Bosch mobility, “a hydrogen engine can do everything a diesel engine does, but on top of that, it is climate neutral.”

Some study supports Bosch’s interest in hydrogen for large applications like commercial vehicles. Some of the world’s leading energy experts, like those at the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), anticipate that the production of green hydrogen will increase this decade, supplying hydrogen that is genuinely cleaner than diesel. Hydrogen might progressively replace conventional liquid fuels for airplanes, trains, and other major transport where batteries are impractical, in addition to fuel cells for trucks.

The fact that more than 90% of the necessary development and production technologies already exist is a significant benefit of hydrogen engines. Bosch anticipates beginning manufacturing three years before Cummins, in 2024. It now has four orders for industrial projects from significant economic areas, and by 2030, it anticipates six-figure unit volumes.

Hydrogen ICE

The fuel-cell stack will be delivered to the Feuerbach factory by the Bosch facility in Bamberg, Germany. The recirculation blower and electric air compressor are manufactured at the Bosch facility in Homburg, Germany.

A pioneering client is Nikola Corp., which will produce the Class 8 Tre, a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), in the third quarter from a facility in Coolidge, Arizona. At its facility, Nikola is authorized to put the modules together.

Bosch is one of the very few businesses that can mass produce technology as intricate as fuel-cell stacks, according to Heyn. We are able to swiftly scale up innovative breakthroughs to mass production in addition to having the necessary systems experience.

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