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AVL RACETECH Builds Hydrogen Combustion Engine for Motorsport

By November 23, 2022 3   min read  (464 words)

November 23, 2022 |

Fuel Cells Works, AVL RACETECH Builds Hydrogen Combustion Engine for Motorsport

AVL RACETECH, the motorsport department of AVL, presents the prototype of an innovative H2 internal combustion engine. The power unit is a compact, hydrogen-powered 2-liter turbo engine, with intelligent water injection that enables it to achieve a totally new performance level. The prototype is the first racing engine that AVL RACETECH is developing and building in-house.

Graz, Austria: Combining hydrogen and motorsport is familiar ground for AVL: Back in 2013, the company helped Graz University of Technology convert an Aston Martin Rapide S to a bivalent H2/gasoline internal combustion engine for the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. With the newly presented propulsion system powered by hydrogen alone, which makes it zero carbon, AVL is starting a new chapter.

Unlike other H2 internal combustion engines, which are usually operated with a high level of excess air (lean-burn), meaning that they generate comparatively less performance, AVL RACETECH’s new racing engine with only slight lean-burn can generate a performance level of around 150 kW per liter. This puts the hydrogen-powered 2-liter turbo engine in the same range as the close-to-production customer racing classes of today.

To achieve this high specific performance, AVL RACETECH transferred the principle of water injection to the hydrogen engine. An injector shoots additional water into the intake air of the engine, which increases the boost pressure. In addition, the evaporating liquid has a strong cooling effect in the combustion chamber. Designing the necessary injectors and valves requires precise knowledge of the overall system behavior with all air, fuel, and exhaust gas flows – for which AVL uses its tried and tested simulation models and 3D flow calculations. This also ensures that the mechanical limits of the engine are not exceeded and the high safety standards in motorsport are met.

Project Manager Paul Kapus, Manager Development Spark Ignited Engines & Concept Cars: “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. The basic technology of a gasoline engine and a hydrogen combustion engine is very similar – in contrast with fuel cell technology. Which is why our concept is also a very good fit for the economical approach of customer racing, since the adaptations required are very straightforward.”

Ellen Lohr, Director Motorsport AVL: “We are forerunners in many aspects of motorsport with AVL RACETECH, and have now made the decision to become leaders in the area of hydrogen combustion engines as well. Which is why we are building our own racing engine for the first time in the more than 20-year history of the AVL motorsport department. We expect to be able to present this hydrogen engine in spring 2023, and are confident that hydrogen combustion technology will play a significant role in achieving a zero carbon future in motorsport.”

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