November 4, 2008 One of the hurdles of cleaning up vehicle emissions is the need for drivers to buy a completely new environmentally friendly vehicle - not exactly a feasible option for most people. Systems like the latest bi-fuel Internal Combustion Engine conversion from Roush Technologies could provide that vital stepping stone between petrol and hydrogen fueled vehicles. To demonstrate the technology, the company has modified the engine of a Ford Transit-based vehicle to operate using compressed hydrogen gas fuel – but it can also operate from its existing petrol fueled system without any adverse effects.
The conversion features Ford’s 2.3-liter 4-cylinder petrol engine, to which Roush has added a belt-driven supercharger with intercooler. This provides additional combustion air under pressure when the fuel mode switch is selected to hydrogen only. The engine retains its conventional spark ignition system.
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The hydrogen fuel, which produces only water at the point of use, is currently designed to be stored in three tanks, underslung below the vehicle floor. This installation provides a usable storage capacity for 4.5 kilograms of hydrogen at 350bar (5000psi) and gives an estimated range between 95 miles for the urban cycle and 135 miles for open highway running. Additional capacity can be added if required. The location and configuration of the tanks allows the retention of the volume and load height of the base vehicle – with no intrusion or interference within the load space.
Roush Technologies recently established a collaboration agreement with ITM Power to provide the refueling solution by enabling vehicle operators to generate their own hydrogen fuel. Using a patented electrolyzer, due to enter production later this year, it is possible to make hydrogen fuel wherever there is a source of electricity and water. This overcomes one of the problems of hydrogen fuel technology – the distribution infrastructure – by using the already developed electricity and water distribution network. If the technology proves itself we might even start seeing environmentally friendly Hummers cruising the streets.