Interview: is competition the best showcase for the hydrogen engine?

hydrogen engine Bosch Engineering - Lionel Martin

The panel on motor racing will be the highlight of the French event Le Mans Hydrogène taking place on September 26 and 27. And there will be talks about the hydrogen engine, a subject driven forward by a Frenchman working at Bosch Engineering (partner of Alpine, Ligier Automotive and GCK). Lionel Martin talks to Hydrogen Today about the issues surrounding this solution.

Bosch Engineering seems to be the reference partner in the hydrogen engine partner in motor racing. When did we start thinking about high-performance applications? And to what extent does the race represent a showcase for the hydrogen sector?

After gaining experience from 2016 on different engines for commercial vehicles, we started our thoughts on high-performance applications at the end of 2019. The advantageous properties of hydrogen, in addition to being free of carbon atoms, theoretically allowed compared to gasoline:
– a specific power at least equivalent, or even higher
– engine speeds at least as high
– better efficiency and at similar costs for the engine.

We then decided to analyze this enormous potential internally on our own engine. On December 16, 2021 we started our V6 on our engine bench adapted to hydrogen, an unforgettable moment with the feeling of giving a future to the high-performance engine.

The competition is there to demonstrate and develop new clean technologies while seeking maximum performance, efficiency and safety. In addition, a local hydrogen infrastructure is sufficient on the circuit. The race therefore provides the best showcase for the hydrogen sector in the coming years.

Is the injection of hydrogen into racing engines the way to preserve the sensations of the world before and to reduce pollution and CO2 emissions in the process?

Hydrogen injection is the only alternative to keep the emotions, sound and vibrations so loved by motorsport fans, while having nearly no carbon emissions. This is why I am convinced that it will have a leading place in the future of motor racing.

What do you think of the opening of the hydrogen category of the 24 hours of Le Mans to hydrogen engines? Is this the way to attract more manufacturers or private structures to take on this challenge?

The opening of the Hypercar category to the hydrogen engine is the most fantastic decision that could have happened to the combustion engine and the hydrogen sector. Since this announcement made by the ACO last June, many manufacturers have intensified contact with our Bosch Motorsport teams and are evaluating their potential participation in the 24h with a hydrogen engine.

The arrival of this technology at Le Mans will also make it possible to develop hydrogen storage systems with better volumetric efficiency and better integration into the vehicle, whether firstly gaseous at 700 bar then, specifically for competition, liquid. This is a key element for the future of hydrogen in high-performance vehicles.

Could the progress made on the track then be used in sports vehicles on the road?

We are currently limiting our developments to motorsports. However, it is conceivable that the technology could also be implemented for sports cars. There will very likely be a demand for emotional and still light-weight sports cars, standing out from the mainstream electric car.

Do you want to learn more about Bosch engineering and the hydrogen engine? Then our latest 2 articles on the subject should interest you. You can read about Bosch engineering here and about the hydrogen engine there

Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King 

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About the author

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Logan King

After an unusual career (3 years in the French army followed by a 3-year degree in Applied Foreign Languages), it was my passion for environmental issues that finally caught up with me and led me to join Seiya Consulting and H2 Today in June 2022. First as an end-of-study internship, then as Marketing & Communication Manager and translator at Hydrogen Today.

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