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Hydrogen engine for light commercial vehicles

In the drive to Net Zero the use of Hydrogen can play an important role in future UK transport. There is the potential to use hydrogen as fuel within a conventional internal combustion engine. There is a large infrastructure in the UK dedicated to producing, servicing and recycling Internal Combustion Engines. It would be of significant benefit to the UK if these facilities could be repurposed to produce net zero internal combustion engines powered by hydrogen. This project targeting coming up with cost effective optimised solutions to some of the fundamental issues associated with adapting an internal combustion engine to run on Hydrogen and be a zero emission engine.

The project brings together a consortium of academic institutions, small and medium enterprises, large engineering consultancies, tier 1 suppliers and a large OEM who specialises in the manufacture of light commercial vehicles. The focus of the project will be demonstrating that a Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine can be a viable alternative to the existing diesel powertrain for use in a Light Commercial Vehicle. The project will start by building on Brunel University and Mahle Powertrain’s experience in running hydrogen powered engines to define the likely challenges and issues associated with running Hydrogen in an Internal Combustion Engine. The consortium will then design and manufacture several options for of single cylinder engine which will then be tested at Brunel. It is hoped that these engines will address the majority of issues associated with Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engines.

The research will directly contribute to automotive industry and create a broader impact by implementing the researched technologies to different applications. The outcome of this project can potentially lead to significant and immediate economic and environmental benefits.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Professor Hua Zhao
Professor Hua Zhao - Academic Responsibilities Vice-Provost  and Dean,  College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences Former Vice Dean Research, College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences Director, Centre for Advanced Powertrain and Fuels (CAPF) Former Head of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Former Course directors for BEng/MEng Degrees in Motorsport Engineering, MSc in Automotive and Motorsport Engineering Former faculty advisor for Brunel Formula Student and Brunel Master Racing teams Academic Qualification and Honours BEng, Tianjin University, China. PhD, Leeds University, UK. FIMechE, Fellow of Institution of Mechanical Engineers (UK). DSc, Brunel University London. FSAE, Fellow of Society of Automotive Engineers  (US) FREng, Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering  Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering  Academic Career College Research Fellow,  Cambridge University, 1989-1992. Research Fellow, Imperial College of London, 1992-1994. Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, Brunel University London, 1994-2001. Professor, Brunel University London, 2002-now.

Related Research Group(s)


Advanced Powertrain and Fuels - We have particular strengths in improving the efficiency and reducing energy cost of existing engines through developing low temperature combustion processes and their controls and regenerative braking, as well as unique methodologies for the study of fuels and engines.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 12/10/2023