Hydrogen Powered Internal Combustion Engines

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Hydrogen powered internal combustion engines are an exciting development in the vehicle world. Not to be confused with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, these engines are an adapted version of your traditional gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. There are many benefits of this type of engine, which is why we expect more vehicles to use them in the future should the technology become more readily available.

Keep reading to discover how hydrogen powered internal combustion engines work and the pros and cons of this type of engine.


How Does a Hydrogen Powered Internal Combustion Engine Work?

When using a hydrogen powered internal combustion engine, no CO2 will be produced during this process. The engine is simply a modified version of your standard gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. It stops greenhouse gas emissions from being produced, which is one of the biggest complaints about traditional engines.

The technology can actually be traced back many years at this point, when the De Rivaz engine was first designed in 1806. This used a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen and was the first internal combustion engine. Later on in 1970, Paul Dieges patented a modification of the traditional engine, allowing gasoline to be replaced with hydrogen.


What Companies Manufacture Hydrogen Powered Internal Combustion Engines?

Many companies are either already producing this type of engine or in the process of researching the potential usage of this technology in the future. Japanese companies are particularly excited by the options available to them when it comes to alternative fuel technologies. Subaru, Toyota, Mazda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki announced a joint project which included hydrogen powered internal combustion engines. It came about as a result of Toyota using hydrogen engines in racing in the Japanese Super Taikyu series.

A facility in Fukuoka City, Japan, was built to produce hydrogen from sewage biogas, which makes it readily available for this project. In the past, BMW also tested this technology between 2005 and 2007. The BMW Hydrogen 7 used hydrogen ICE and a couple of the concepts went on to be manufactured.


Pros and Cons

As with any type of new and innovative technology, there are going to be pros and cons to it. Hydrogen powered internal combustion engines reduce the number of greenhouse gases put into the air. As no carbon is present in the engine, no CO2 can be produced. This technology also means there’s no risk of carbon-based pollutants, such as hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. For manufacturers and consumers looking to make more conscious choices, it’s certainly a good option for your next vehicle.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to this type of engine. NOx could still be produced as a result of using this engine, as hydrogen combustion will occur in any place where oxygen and nitrogen is present in the atmosphere. Hydrogen is a very challenging chemical to handle, and when it escapes, it could potentially explode. The technology also is still in its early stages, making it less readily available and more costly to both manufacturers and consumers at the current time.


Why Aren’t Hydrogen Engines Popular?

Hydrogen engines aren’t as popular as standard engines due to the fact that they aren’t yet produced by the majority of vehicle manufacturers. Due to the challenges associated with handling hydrogen, many companies are still unsure about investing in this unique technology.

While we all want to make environmentally-friendly choices in our lives, when it comes at a much higher cost, people often think twice about whether this is a realistic investment for them. The efficiency is about the same as traditional engines, so from that point of view, consumers also are unsure about the benefits of spending extra on this type of engine.


How Efficient is a Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine?

When it comes to the efficiency of your engine, you’ll find that it’s similar to a traditional combustion engine. However, when fully optimized, the hydrogen internal combustion engine could be a little more efficient. The engine has a peak when it’s at low load, which allows it to be about as efficient as a hydrogen fuel cell. Keep in mind that you may need a turbo-charger when working at higher loads. Otherwise, the efficiency of the engine could be greatly reduced.


Video References to Learn More About Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engines

This engine type is certainly an exciting technological development for the manufacturing industry. If you are looking to learn more about these engines, then there are some great resources online. This video breaks down how hydrogen engines work, and you’ll discover the difference between the two different options for powering a vehicle with hydrogen.

Toyota is one of the leading manufacturers when it comes to this technology, and this video teaches us more about their exciting future projects and the work they are doing to develop this technology. Internal combustion engines are a topic of discussion in the world of vehicles, and this discussion will help you to discover if hydrogen is the way forward. We certainly can’t wait to see what the future holds for hydrogen internal combustion engines, and we hope more companies will continue to research and develop this technology.



Hydrogen internal combustion engines are an exciting development for the world of manufacturing and driving. While it’s still early days for this technology and we are yet to see some of the major manufacturers invest in it, we hope the work that Toyota and other companies are doing will help to lead the way for future investment in these engines.

We are all looking for ways to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions we put out into the world, and hydrogen engines certainly offer benefits in this area. Of course, they don’t come without their drawbacks as well, so you’ll want to make sure that you are aware of the risks and disadvantages of using this chemical. We look forward to following this technology development in the upcoming years and seeing if it becomes more readily available to consumers in the near future.


About Clearwater Cylinder Head

Whether the internal engine combustion engine is powered by gasoline or hydrogen, Clearwater Cylinder Head stands ready to replace the cylinder heads in your vehicle or boat. We are known across North America for selling high quality cylinder heads at a very competitive price point. Please call us at 800-572-1963 if you are in the market to buy a new or refurbished cylinder head. We are happy to walk you through the purchasing process to select the perfect cylinder head for your car, SUV, truck, or marine vessel. You can also use our online search tool to see if we have a cylinder head for your vehicle in stock.