Dolphin N2 have attended two events this year with their ThermoPower ® Recuperated Split cycle Engine demonstrator & one of the most overwhelming reactions has been the positivity towards the technology.
Dolphin N2’s invite to the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK Westminster briefing on hydrogen automotive propulsion in March 2022, was clear recognition of the importance of the Dolphin N2 engine in the decarbonisation of the heavy-duty sector.
The recognition that not all sectors of the transport industry can join the electrification revolution has been a welcome shift in attitudes & with ‘hydrogen’ trucks & cars being showcased at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle event (LCV) this year, it is a welcome step towards acceptance that the ICE in some format shall remain a contender for heavy-duty propulsion.
Earlier this year, Dolphin N2 attended the Future Propulsion Conference (FPC) at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull. The overwhelming takeaway from the event was that heavy-duty & off-highway cannot follow the same electrification evolution as passenger vehicle & small van & alternatives were already being embraced.
Future Propulsion Conference 2022
During the opening keynote on Day 1 of FPC, Innovate UK Deputy Director Paul Gadd explored the ways in which Innovate UK are investing in innovation & made specific reference in his keynote address to how Innovate UK have supported the Dolphin N2 ThermoPower ™ Recuperated Spilt Cycle Engine.
Paul Gadd made refence to the Innovate UK paper Transport Vision 2050 & recognised that although EV’s are a sensible & viable route for passenger & light goods vehicles; there is less confidence in emission free technologies for the heavy-duty sector, where a blended approach of options would need to be adopted. He did however refer to how many heavy duty & off-highway manufacturers are investing in Hydrogen opportunities for their portfolio’s of HGV’s, Agriculture & Marine options.
Ryan Ballard – Engineering Director, Powertrain – JCB, explored “Hydrogen as a Route to Zero Emissions for off Highway Heavy Duty Applications”
JCB are realistic when it comes to the needs of a 20 tonne excavator moving 4 tonnes of earth per minute & that is that electrification is simply not a viable option which is why hydrogen has become a “compelling solution”.
JCB are therefore utilising Hydrogen in an ICE model in which they have been able to use advanced boosting & hybridisation to mitigate NOx. With diesel engines still able to perform energy density efficiency, the hydrogen ICE solution is a way of mimicking the performance, whilst also moving towards a zero emissions solution.
Nick Owen – Technical Director, Dolphin N2 addressed attendees with the question: “The Recuperated Split Cycle Engine: A Practical Hydrogen Solution for Heavy Duty?”
Nick explained that the Dolphin N2 technology specifically targets heavy-duty & the long-haul sectors where most commercial vehicle CO2 originates & alternatives are the most challenging.
Although the Dolphin N2 engine & the technology built around it uses the efficiency of a diesel engine as it’s base model, the developments mean that the Recuperated Split Cycle Engine can also be run on methane & hydrogen.
The benefits of a Hydrogen ICE are that a Hydrogen ICE works, is fast to adopt, uses the same supply chain as current manufacturers, has familiar servicing needs, NOx is entirely manageable via lean burn & in principle it suits a Recuperated Split Cycle. “Fast oxidation” combustion is fuel agnostic – violent mixing with red-hot sonic & supercritical air will burn many things & if Hydrogen can maintain BOTH high efficiency & low NOx, the advantages are clear.
The Westminster event was an opportunity for the APC UK to launch their report ‘An ambition for the UK hydrogen vehicle supply chain’ in which Ian Constance, CEO APC UK outlined his vision for the role hydrogen can play in the decarbonisation of automotive & in particular those sectors who face performance & longevity efficiency challenges.
“Hydrogen combustion is a promising net-zero technology that can provide a good route for heavy duty applications & share the same hydrogen refuelling network required for fuel cell vehicles.
This technology is already in development & showing net-zero CO2 and NOx emissions is achievable. “Ian Constance, CEO APC UK (1)
The ‘An ambition for the UK hydrogen vehicle supply chain’ report highlights the APC UK analysis citing that the UK has the potential to become one of the world’s fuel cell system production capitals. (1)
With UK companies currently able to contribute to about 15% of the value-add in a fuel cell system; with the right investment the APC UK believes that ambition could be 65% of the entire fuel cell value chain radiating from UK businesses. (1)
The report directs focus to the inherent issues facing the heavy-duty sector & cites how Hydrogen combustion, or similar net-zero propulsion, can provide a good route for 7.5t-44t heavy duty goods vehicles, agriculture & off-highway machines, which can share the same hydrogen refuelling network required for fuel cell vehicles. (1)
Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle 2022
One of the buzz words for the entire event was how hydrogen could become a serious contender in the decarbonization of the transport sector. It was therefore refreshing to see representation from several truck & heavy-duty companies highlighting the benefits of hydrogen for the heavy-duty & off-highway sectors.
It was fitting that this year the Dolphin N2 ThermoPower® Recuperated Split Cycle Engine demonstrator created such interest amongst attendees.
Some visitors to the stand were intrigued as to why what looks like a diesel engine on the outside was being showcased at a low carbon vehicle event & others knowing more about the thermopower® technology already; wanted to make connections & discuss more about the way the technology can support the decarbonization of the heavy-duty & off-highway sector.
The level of interest in how the recuperated split cycle engine technology is now not only hydrogen ready but can also run on other eFuels such as methane; were subjects of great interest to many attendees & by the time it was midday on Thursday 8th September, there was a tangible shift in attitude toward the inherent challenges the decarbonization of the heavy-duty, off-highway & marine sectors.
Other companies highlighting the need for flexibility in the heavy-duty/off-highway sectors were Ballards with their Hydrogen Fuel Cell refuse truck, CMB.Tech with their heavy-duty hydrogen fueled cab & Genset, ELECTRA & their hydrogen fuel-cell powered truck & TEVVA fuel cell technologies.
All of these vehicles were a welcome sight at LCV as the heavy-duty sector is still more challenging to decarbonize than passenger & light vehicle & therefore highlighting the needs of this sector at such an event as LCV reaches the right influencers in the low carbon vehicle space.
Three industry events with attendees from Government, Industry, Manufacturers & developers all embracing the way in which future fuels such as hydrogen can support the transformation of the heavy-duty, off-highway & even marine sectors.
Written by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2