Ford Motor Co. has developed a supercharged, 6.8-liter V-10 internal combustion engine that runs on clean-burning hydrogen instead of gasoline, according to the Detroit News
newspaper on September 10. And for months now, it has been testing the engine in a F-350 Super Duty 4x4 pickup nicknamed “Tiny” on the streets of Dearborn. Ford’s latest experiment helps demonstrate that hydrogen-powered vehicles — which can be fuel efficient and clean — don’t have to be sluggish, four-cylinder econoboxes. Ford hopes test data it derives from the truck’s demonstration will help accelerate commercial demand for hydrogen, which must happen before an infrastructure to deliver the new fuel can be established. According to the Detroit News
article, Ford views the hydrogen internal combustion engine as a transitional technology. The F-350 hydrogen engine's economically feasible because it's based on existing engine designs - only the fuel has been changed. Ford expects to have a fleet of V-10 powered trucks on the road for testing within 12 months. Other companies also are joining the hydrogen race. German automaker BMG AG has a test fleet and plans to market, within two years, 7-Series luxury sedans powered by hydrogen internal combustion engines. Compared with gasoline engines, hydrogen internal combustion engines offer fuel economy improvements of up to 25 percent. But hydrogen also compromises output. Hydrogen displaces more air during combustion than gasoline, and air volume is critical to power generation. "We use supercharging as a means to recover some of the performance that you'd otherwise lose," said Vince Zanardelli, manager of Ford's strategic powertrain technologies. A supercharger forces air into an engine to improve combustion and generate more power. With the F-350, the result is a truck that is quieter than many diesels and puts out 225 horsepower and 300 ft.-lb. of torque. That's well below the output of Ford's gas-powered V-10, which makes 355 horsepower and 455 ft.-lb. of torque. Ford's previous hydrogen-fueled vehicles - including the Model U concept car unveiled at the 2003 Detroit auto show - have featured 2.3-liter four-cylinder engines.