Commercial vehicle power train specialist Cummins has  certainly not sat back and rested on its laurels by relying on  its reversed range of diesel engines, with the US giant working hard to develop  zero emission alternatives, including hydrogen fuel cell electric drivetrains and a range of electric drive options.

However Cummins believes hydrogen may not only provide a zero emission source of electricity generation, but could also  breath new life into internal combustion engines  and announced back in July that it was deep into a program to test and develop  hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engines, including a new 6.7 litre medium duty and a 15 litre heavy duty engine based on all new engine platforms, not on the current X15 diesel as has been rumoured in other outlets.

Based on next-generation platforms, the goal for the new Cummins hydrogen engines is to achieve zero carbon emissions, and enhanced power density as well as improved thermal efficiency.

The development of the 6.7-litre hydrogen engine will see it targeting medium-duty truck, bus, and construction applications, such as excavators and wheel loaders. The new 15-litre platform offers the potential to bring hydrogen gas-fueled engine capability to heavy-duty long-haul trucks.

The company says its  proof-of-concept test of the 15litre hydrogen fuel engine will build on its existing technology credentials in gaseous-fuel applications and powertrains to ‘create new power solutions that help customers meet the energy and environmental needs of the future’.

“Cummins is thrilled about the potential of the hydrogen engine to reduce emissions and provide power and performance for customers,” said Cummins’ president of the engine segment, Srikanth Padmanabhan.

“We are using all new engine platforms equipped with the latest technologies to improve power density, reduce friction and improve thermal efficiency, allowing us to avoid the typical performance limitations and efficiency compromises associated with converting diesel or natural gas engines over to hydrogen fuel,” said n Padmanabhan.

“We have made significant technological advancements and will continue moving forward. We are optimistic about bringing this solution to market,” he added.

Following the proof-of-concept testing, the company says it plans to evaluate the engine in a variety of on- and off-highway applications, supporting the company’s efforts to accelerate the decarbonization of commercial vehicles.

“The hydrogen engine program can potentially expand the technology options available to achieve a more sustainable transport sector, complementing our capabilities in hydrogen fuel cell, battery electric and renewable natural gas powertrains,” said Jonathon White, Vice-President of Engine Business Engineering.

Cummins says its global technical centres will work together to achieve commercial viability for the H2-ICE project on a global basis. it said that part of the development work will be undertaken at Cummins Darlington facility in the UK and is being supported by a funding award recently received from the UK Government, provided through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), recognising the potential for Cummins H2-ICE to play a major role in de-carbonising transport from as early as 2025.

Hydrogen engines offer OEMs and end-users the benefit of adaptability by continuing to use familiar mechanical drivelines with vehicle and equipment integration mirroring that of current powertrains while continuing to provide the power and capability for meeting application needs.

The hydrogen engines can use green hydrogen fuel, produced by Cummins-manufactured electrolyzers, emitting near zero CO2 emissions through the tailpipe and near zero levels of NOx. The projected investment in renewable hydrogen production globally will provide a growing opportunity for the deployment of hydrogen-powered fleets utilizing either Cummins fuel cell or engine power.

Cummins says it is investing across a range of technologies to support hydrogen-based transportation including hydrogen engines, fuel cells, electrolysers and storage tanks.

The company says the high energy density of hydrogen enables easily integrated on-board gas storage without compromising either the vehicle payload or operating range.

Cummins’ says its joint venture partnership with hydrogen storage specialist NPROXX adds the ability to integrate the fuel cell or hydrogen engine with the high-pressure gas cylinder tanks and supply lines on the vehicle. NPROXX is also a leading supplier of containerised storage vessels, enabling fast hydrogen refueling for end users.

Cummins has played a pivotal role in expanding the hydrogen ecosphere  and actually goes beyond fuel cells and storage solutions to the manufacture of decarbonised renewable hydrogen, with the company benefitting from the experience of supplying more than 600 electrolyser installations across the globe.

Cummins says the modular scalability of our electrolysers are ideally suited for a range of applications, from the localised supply of truck and bus fleets to utility-scale electrolysis. Cummins also said it has unique hydrogen capabilities extending from fuel production to storage and vehicle power.