AVL H2 Ice Race: an impressive hydrogen engine for motorsport

AVL hydrogen Engine Austria motorsport
AVL H2 Ice Race: an impressive hydrogen engine for motorsport

The motorsport department of AVL Racetech has developed a hydrogen combustion engine. A 2-litre block with a turbocharger that develops more than 400 horsepower and uses water injection to boost performance.

In November 2022, AVL Racetech announced the development of this competition engine. This was a first for the company in its 20-year history. It’s true that the hydrogen combustion engine has become quite popular, as demonstrated by Toyota’s efforts in this area. It is also common knowledge that the technology has been accepted alongside the fuel cell by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest as part of its future hydrogen category.

In fact, AVL’s hydrogen engine was presented in 2023. And it won two awards at the Motorsport World Expo in Cologne: “Engine Technology of the Year” and “Innovation of the Year”. So what’s behind all the hype?

Water injection on top of hydrogen to boost performance

Unlike other H2 internal combustion engines, which generally run on a lean mixture with excess air at the intake, and which prioritise fuel consumption over performance, the AVL Racetech engine makes little use of the lean mixture and can generate a level of performance of around 150 kW per litre. This puts this 2-litre hydrogen-powered turbo engine at the same level of efficiency as racing engines powered by conventional fuels. On top of that, this Austrian company is applying the principle of water injection to the hydrogen engine*. An injector squirts water along with the air, increasing boost pressure. In addition, the evaporating liquid has a strong cooling effect in the combustion chamber.

“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,” explained Project Manager Paul Kapus.

An explanatory video

AVL Racetech’s centre in Graz, Austria, recently hosted an interview with Autosport magazine. The video can be seen here. In the report, Ellen Lohr, head of AVL’s motorsport department, explains that the company could very well offer a global approach to its customers, with a portable electrolysis system to produce hydrogen directly on the track, in addition to the engine.

*Nothing to do with the water engine, which does not exist. Water injection in engines is a technique designed and used to improve or modify the technical characteristics or performance of an internal combustion engine. It has already been used in competitions. BMW had imagined applying it to a production car.

To keep up with the latest hydrogen news, updates and events around the world check out our page here

Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Mariem Ben Tili

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About the author

Picture of Laurent Meillaud

Laurent Meillaud

Freelance automotive journalist and consultant, author as well, focused on technologies and new trends for more than 30 years, convinced that hydrogen is one of the energies for the future.

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