Battery-electric vehicles seem poised to be the car of the future, but many automakers, including Porsche, are betting their bets. BEVs are likely to serve as one solution to reducing emissions, with hydrogen, synthetic fuels and others filling the gap. Porsche is investing in alternative powertrain technology, recently completing virtual tests of its hydrogen-powered engine.
The automaker simulated a large luxury vehicle cruising around the Nurburgring Nordschleife on a powertrain, circling the circuit in eight minutes and 20.2 seconds. Porsche used the 4.4-liter V8 as a starting point for virtual studies, modifying it to withstand higher compression and combustion ratios. In testing, the vehicle reached 162 miles per hour (261 kilometers per hour).
The automaker found that a turbocharger needed to provide twice as much air mass, but the lower exhaust temperatures made this difficult, forcing Porsche to install an electronically assisted turbocharger.
Different turbocharging configurations result in engines that exhibit different advantages and disadvantages. However, one thing the engine does not lack is power. Porsche says the hydrogen engine produces about 590 horsepower (440 kilowatts), which is comparable to a gas-powered equivalent. Porsche simulated an in-vehicle engine weighing 5,842 pounds (2,650 kilograms), placing the car in Cayenne territory.
Porsche simulations reveal that the engine can meet Euro 7 emission standards. Hydrogen engines are more complex and expensive than traditional gasoline engines; However, it does not require an aftertreatment system for exhaust gases. This makes hydrogen engines comparable to gas engines.
The automaker says it has no plans to put the engine into production “in its current form.” However, that was not the goal of the project, as the company used tests to examine the potential of the technology. The study helped Porsche “gain valuable insights” into high-performance hydrogen engines.
Porsche isn’t the only automaker looking to hydrogen. Ford filed a patent for a hydrogen combustion engine, and Toyota also toyed with the technology. Automakers like Hyundai are continuing to develop hydrogen fuel cells, but there are hurdles to bringing the technology to the masses. Hydrogen refueling infrastructure remains woefully inadequate in the US, but that hasn’t slowed automakers. Renault, BMW and Land Rover are also exploring the technology.