Opposed piston hydrogen engine: an original solution for heavy mobility in the United States

opposed piston hydrogen engine
Opposed piston hydrogen engine: a solution for heavy mobility?

The Argonne National Laboratory (Illinois) and Achates Power have proven that it is possible to run an opposed piston engine on hydrogen. The solution is particularly useful for long-distance trucks.

Invented over 100 years ago, the opposed piston engine had its heyday during the Second World War. It was used on submarines, aircraft carriers and tanks. The technology behind this two-stroke engine* (instead of 4 for a conventional block) is being promoted in the United States by Achates Power, a company that is seeking to gain a foothold in the HGV and automotive markets. Technical advances (electronic injection, sensors) may well enable its entry into the market. Researchers from the Argonne national laboratory and engineers from Achates Power have worked together to develop a hydrogen-powered version.

According to Essam El-Hannouny, Argonne Principal Engineer, the results are promising. He stated: “We are in the early stages, but the testing provides the data we need to make changes to the combustion mode or other parts of the engine to improve performance.” For Douglas Longman, Argonne’s group manager, Advanced Power Systems Research: “The opposed-piston engine has an enormous potential for decarbonization by running on hydrogen fuel.”

A performance comparable to diesel and with no pollution

Specialising in hydrogen, this laboratory is well positioned as it features the appropriate facilities: a single-cylinder opposed piston engine platform with a newly designed combustion chamber that has been optimised for research into medium- and heavy-duty engines, as well as a hydrogen storage system. The aim now is to achieve the efficiency, power density and torque of diesel engines, while eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

This was a major first for Achates, which is targeting, with its hydrogen engine, medium to large trucks, off-road vehicles for industries (such as mining and agriculture), and military vehicles.

The full press release can be read here.

*The engine’s two-stroke combustion cycle produces twice as many strokes per crankshaft rotation as a standard four-stroke engine. As a result, it delivers more power. The engine is also lighter, cheaper and easier to build.

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

Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Mariem Ben Tili

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About the author

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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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