Monday, June 17, 2024

AVL Racetech’s Hydrogen-Fuelled Race Engine

AVL RACETECH, the motorsport department of AVL, recently presented a hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engine for motorsport applications. The power unit is a 2-litre turbocharged engine with intelligent water injection enabling output of around 150 kW per litre, which puts it in the same field as the close-to-production racing classes of today. 

With the newly presented propulsion system powered by hydrogen alone, which makes it zero carbon, AVL RACETECH is starting a new chapter. The prototype is the first racing engine that AVL RACETECH is developing and building in-house, though combining hydrogen and motorsport is familiar ground for AVL. Unlike other H2 internal combustion engines, which usually operate with a high level of excess air (lean-burn), which generate comparatively less performance, AVL RACETECH’s engine runs only just into lean-burn.

AVL RACETECH added water injection to the hydrogen engine to achieve high specific performance. An injector shoots additional water into the engine’s intake air, which increases the boost pressure. In addition, the evaporating liquid has a strong cooling effect in the combustion chamber. Designing the necessary injectors and valves requires precise knowledge of the overall system behaviour with all air, fuel, and exhaust gas flows – for which AVL uses its tried and tested simulation models and 3D flow calculations. The simulations also ensure the operation does not exceed the mechanical limits of the engine and it meets the motorsport safety standards.

Paul Kapus, Manager of Development Spark Ignited Engines & Concept Cars and project manager for the H2 racing engine, says, ‘Realizing performance values at motorsport level with a hydrogen internal combustion engine is an incredibly complex technical challenge. But our prototype proves it can be done. The basic technology of a gasoline engine and a hydrogen combustion engine is very similar – in contrast with fuel cell technology. This is why our concept is also a very good fit for the economical approach of customer racing since the adaptations required are very straightforward.’

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