Working with research partners in Graz and Vienna Austria, BMW Group Forschung und Technik has devised a dedicated hydrogen-powered engine with fuel efficiency that rivals the best modern turbodiesels. This new turbocharged powerplant, which couples diesel-like internal geometries with progressive high-pressure direct injection of hydrogen, is said to offer an efficiency level of up to 42 percent, versus the roughly 25 percent figure of a conventional gasoline-powered spark-ignition engine while being much cleaner overall.
During the course of extensive development testing on this experimental "H2BVplus" engine, the group found that an optimized combination of spark-ignition and diesel combustion systems that used surface ignition subsequently followed by a diffusion-type of combustion would most effectively enhance total efficiency throughout the entire operating range of a typical passenger vehicle engine. BMW, which is currently developing technology that can recapture waste exhaust-gas heat and turn it into usable electrical energy, believes that even greater levels of efficiencies are possible with this hydrogen-fueled system in the future, not to mention its inherent ability to virtually eliminate all hydrocarbon and CO2 emissions.
Partnering BMW in the "H2BVplus" project were the Institute for Internal Combustion Engines and Thermodynamics at Graz University of Technology, HyCentA Research GmbH in Graz, and HOERBIGER ValveTec GmbH in Vienna. The program itself was sponsored by Austria's Federal Ministry for Transportation, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT).