Porsche pushes power limit of hydrogen engines


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The virtual study used a hydrogen-powered turbocharged V8 similar to that used by the Porsche Cayenne and Panamera.

Porsche has been one of the more active car manufacturers when it comes to looking at alternative fuels. The German car maker has already started work on its new synthetic fuel production factory in Chile and now it’s started simulated hydrogen tests around the Nurburgring.

The virtual test used what’s known as a ‘digital twin’ using an existing data set from an actual car that was then altered to take account of the virtual hydrogen engine’s new technology. Porsche says the hydrogen engine’s 440kW “is on par with the original gasoline unit”, with revised turbocharging system and higher compression ratio.

Porsche used a “luxury-segment reference vehicle” with a kerbweight of 2650kg, so you can expect the study to have been based on a car like the Cayenne Turbo S. The hydrogen simulation managed a respectable time of eight minutes and 20 seconds, roughly 41 seconds slower than the Cayenne Turbo GT’s SUV lap record at the Nurburgring.

Why bother? Because a hydrogen engine is so clean, it would be Euro 7 compliant without the need for the complex after-treatment fitted to a conventional petrol engine.

Porsche isn’t the only company looking at hydrogen power for vehicles but it cites the 50kW per litre of displacement found in commercial hydrogen vehicles as too low. “For the passenger car sector, this is insufficient,” says Vincenzo Bevilacqua, Senior Expert Engine Simulation at Porsche Engineering. “We have therefore developed a hydrogen combustion engine that aims to match the power and torque of current high-performance gasoline engines as a concept study.”

“We have fulfilled our self-imposed project goal: the development of a clean, economical and sporty hydrogen engine, across the board,” adds Bevilacqua. Porsche also claims that although the turbocharger system and a number of mechanical components of the hydrogen engine are more complex and therefore more expensive, the cost of a hydrogen powertrain in series production could be comparable to a traditional petrol engine.

Rather than aiming to enter this engine into a production car, Porsche says the focus was on examining the potential of the “alternative drive technology and expanding the capabilities of existing engineering tools.”

Alastair Crooks

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