This is the hydrogen-powered engine from AVL Racetech (combustion engine), which, although still in the development phase, has already demonstrated its capabilities.
The AVL H2 ICE RACE is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine capable of reaching a maximum power output of 405 hp and spinning at 6500 rpm, as well as generating a maximum torque of 375 lb-ft from 4000 rpm. It is a powerful engine that has been designed for racing and its sound is so powerful that it might sound like it is burning gasoline, when in fact it is processing hydrogen. This engine proclaims that clean clean energy has arrived on the racetrack.
AVL H2 ICE RACE: the hydrogen powered engine
The Austrian company has faced one of its main challenges in engine development. AVL H2 ICE in dealing with the high reactivity of the hydrogenThe use of this fuel, a substance that can be easily ignited, has traditionally been considered one of the main obstacles to the development of engines using this fuel.
In the words of Paul Kapus, who holds the position of director of spark ignition engines and concept vehicles for this company: “Hydrogen is a very reactive molecule. It likes to ignite on any surface you can imagine: hot surfaces, hot oil droplets, overheated spark plugs, hot valves. There is a high risk of preignition”.
BMW engineers encountered a similar challenge when they developed an engine similar to the AVL H2 ICE a few years ago and the solution they employed was quite similar: they used water spray injection into the engine to lower the air temperature. This strategy was intended to prevent premature ignitions that could cause engine damage.
“Hydrogen is a peculiar fuel,” says Nilton Dia, senior engineer at AVL, “It’s afuelthat can be used for a wide variety of purposes.You need to moderate the combustion process because it burns incredibly fast. That is why we opted for water injection”.
AVL engineers thus took up the BMW combustion engine concept, but have managed to design a machine with power comparable to that of the turbocharged gasoline engines that compete in major auto racing.
An engine not only for racetracks
AVL Racetech is an Austrian company recognized for its commitment to creating racing technologies used in various racing events around the world, ranging from NASCAR to Formula 1. However, the implications of the development of this high-performance engine go beyond environmental sustainability in automobile racing, as it poses a direct competition between hydrogen-based and electric vehicles.
So far, hydrogen has been used mainly in fuel cells that generate electricity through a process of electrolysis, thus powering batteries or directly the engine of electric vehicles. In contrast, hydrogen combustion engines have significant similarities to gasoline combustion engines. However, they are also zero-emission systems and could represent a more practical and faster option to replace current gasoline engine technology.
Tests of the AVL H2 ICE RACE will soon be conducted in a race car that will run on tracks, and it is likely that we will see competitors using this engine in the Le Mans competition, where a specific category for hydrogen engines will be established from 2026.
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