The Anonymous Widower

This Hydrogen Combustion Engine Is The EV Alternative We’ve Been Waiting For – HotCars

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Central.

This must-read article is a reprint of an article in hotcars and it details the technology and thinking behind JCB’s new hydrogen engine.

As someone who believes, that hydrogen is the only way to go to power zero-emission vehicles in the future, I advise all hydrogen sceptics to read this article.

These two paragraphs, explain the thinking behind why JCB turned to hydrogen.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. JCB was struck with the problem of going zero emissions without sacrificing power and cost of purchase. In a previous Harry’s Garage episode, Lord Bamford, Chairman of JCB, mentioned that passenger cars, on average, run about 300 hours per year. In contrast, a regular heavy-duty backhoe would have running hours close to 10 times that amount. He adds that in countries like India, machines of this scale run for at least 5000 hours per year.

So, to have electricity run an industrial equipment for eight hours at the minimum requires significantly more batteries. Not only does it skyrocket the costs involved, but it will add a ton of complexity and increase the overall weight. Therefore, engineers had to think radically.

Many believe that Hydrogen engines will pump out loads of nitrogen oxides.

These two paragraphs outline JCB’s solution.

A known disadvantage of a hydrogen ICE is the production of Nitrogen oxides or NOX. The reason is high operating temperatures. JCB engineers, however, found a clever way to circumvent this by running the engine on a lean mixture of fuel. Hydrogen for a given mass has three times the energy density of its diesel equivalent.

This allowed the team to get the same torque figures without running the engine too rich. Another way to get rid of NOX is through selective catalytic reduction, a common practice in modern diesel engines.

It is my belief, that if a company or engineer solves the problem of making a small hydrogen internal combustion engine, they will make an absolute fortune, that will make Microsoft and Bill Gates look like paupers.

Engineering is the science of the possible, whereas politics is dreams of the impossible.

March 13, 2023 - Posted by | Hydrogen | , ,


  1. I hope you had a chance to look at the Harry’s Garage youtube link I sent…

    Comment by PJS | March 13, 2023 | Reply

    • I’d already seen it, before you sent it.

      I beginning to feel the smell of brown envelopes passing between the builders of electric cars and well-placed politicians, who know nothing about science.

      Comment by AnonW | March 13, 2023 | Reply

  2. As a non-technical layman, I thought Lord Bamford and the JCB director leading the programme made a compelling case for their hydrogen engine. I would guess Lord Bamford has his own political influence, it is a British company, and you AW have written eloquently about producing hydrogen in the UK… I just hope they can put all the peices together, as electric cars are not without their disadvantages and the demand for the critical elements for [their batteries] lithium and cobalt et al, do not come without their own price [increasing with demand] and enviromental impact [which is what we are suppsoed to be avoiding with de-carbonisation….lol]

    Comment by PJS | March 13, 2023 | Reply

    • I had an interesting insight once on a flight to Europe. I got out my copy of Flight International, which had a picture of JCB’s two HS125’s on the cover; the current one and its new replacement. The lady next to me spotted it and said something like, “I used to be a stewardess for JCB.” She explained a lot about how they marketed the diggers. Nothing was underhand, but all very professional. One thing they did was do all the demos to prospective new customers at the factory at Rocester, so prospective customers were flown into East Midlands Airport.

      It was a philosophy that worked.

      Comment by AnonW | March 13, 2023 | Reply

  3. Im sure its the only way forward for high power operations as for all the hype battery technology has plateaued for best part of decade. Thing is though the ability to produce green hydrogen in quantities needed isn’t practical.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | March 13, 2023 | Reply

    • I think that making green hydrogen through pyrolysis is the way to go. When I worked at ICI in the 1960s, they were trying to use it to create acetylene. It failed and covered Runcorn in soot.

      But now it appears that HiiROC are using the process to split hydrocarbon gases into hydrogen and carbon black. Carbon black is probably easier to dispose of ethically, than carbon dioxide.

      There’s more on HiiROC here.

      Centrica Partners With Hull-Based HiiRoc For Hydrogen Fuel Switch Trial At Humber Power Plant

      Comment by AnonW | March 13, 2023 | Reply

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