Cummins hoping hydrogen ICE gets zero-emission status (2023)

At a time when fleets are looking at all-electric and fuel cell as their only zero-emission options, hydrogen internal combustion may have a shot at joining that elite club – though, getting past gatekeepers in the U.S. and Europe will be anything but easy.

General Manager of Cummins' Hydrogen Engine Business Jim Nebergall told reporters at a recent press event at Cummins’ headquarters in Columbus, Indiana, that hydrogen combustion "would likely be recognized as ZEV" in Europe.

“It’s huge,” Nebergall said of the possibility.

When CCJ asked if lawmakers in the U.S. might follow Europe's lead should hydrogen combustion be designated as zero emissions, Nebergall said, “How does EPA and CARB view the technology? Will they follow a similar approach? They should.”

The reason for a zero designation, Nebergall explained, rests on the capability of hydrogen internal combustion engines (ICE) to drastically cut carbon, a growing requirement championed regularly by influential investment groups and legislators around the globe who seek to control climate change.

“It’s an extremely low reduction in carbon,” Nebergall said of Cummins’ recently announced 6.7- and 15-liter hydrogen engines. “There’s basically no carbon. It’s just NOx.”

(Video) Cummins hydrogen ICE truck powered by B6.7H

And it’s not much. As Nebergall explained in a recent CCJ story, Cummins’ hydrogen engines will “easily see a 75% reduction in NOx from today’s standards.” Steady state cruising on highway delivers “almost no NOx at all,” Nebergall continued.

The numbers look good long before hydrogen makes its way to the engine. From a well-to-wheels perspective, a June 15 data chart released by California Air Resources Board (CARB) shows hydrogen’s carbon intensity dropping to -150, making it a carbon negative fuel.

[Related: Cummins hydrogen engine offers more capability, lower cost over electric]

Cummins hoping hydrogen ICE gets zero-emission status (1)Cummins general manager of hydrogen engine business Jim Nebergall talked with reporters recently at the company's headquarters in Columbus, Indiana.Tom QuimbyTo help ensure low carbon intensity scores, Cummins produces renewable or green hydrogen through electrolysis, a growing method that uses electricity from renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydroelectric to produce hydrogen from water.

Hydrogen can beat all-electric’s carbon intensity scores, particularly when the grid is powered by fossil fuel sources like coal and natural gas – which tends to be the case across the country. In 2021, 61% of the electricity in the U.S. was produced by fossil fuels according to the U.S. Energy Administration.

It's this kind of carbon-cutting performance that has drawn support for hydrogen combustion in medium- and heavy-duty trucks from legislators in the European Union, CCJ confirmed. But no matter the EU's leanings, CARB and the EPA, both of which have not yet tested either of Cummins' hydrogen engines, are not impressed.

(Video) Cummins hydrogen power delivering zero emissions with ASKO

While it's true that carbon reduction is seen by climate protection advocates as a win in reducing damage to the ozone layer and thus stemming climate change, tailpipe emissions of any kind are regarded as a potential problem for local air pollution in communities, especially those in truck-heavy areas like ports.

“Our definition of ZEV only includes vehicles that have zero emissions of any criteria pollutant, precursor to a criteria pollutant, or a GHG,” CARB spokesman Alberto Larios explained. “So, even if the H2 fuel became 100% renewable, the criteria pollutant emissions from the internal combustion engine would still be a problem and preclude it from counting as a ZEV.”

The EPA so far has also nixed the idea.

“Commercial trucks that use hydrogen combustion engines do not count as zero emission vehicle status,” said EPA spokesperson Taylor Gillespie. “This is because the heat and pressure of combustion, combined with nitrogen in the air, produce NOx emissions, and urea-SCR emission controls are still needed (as they are on diesel-fueled engines.)”

Building the case

When it comes to considering hydrogen ICE as a zero emission option in the U.S. and abroad, Cummins is not alone. Thomas Korn, engineer and founder of hydrogen engine company Keyou in Munich, Germany, supported the idea during the height of the COVID pandemic.

“As a large proportion of the vehicles currently being produced still have combustion engines, the engine itself must become an essential means of combating the climate crisis,” Korn wrote in a June 2020 article posted on, a scholarly publication focusing on scientific, technical and medical topics.

“This has been recognized by the EU, which classifies vehicles with combustion engines as zero-emission vehicles if their emission levels are below 1 g CO2/kWh,” Korn continued. “This is possible by using modern hydrogen combustion engines.”

(Video) Has Toyota solved all our problems? (Toyota Hydrogen Combustion Engine)

Cummins hoping hydrogen ICE gets zero-emission status (2)Nearly two months after revealing its near-zero 10.6-liter opposed-piston diesel engine inside the engine bay of a Peterbilt 579 operated by Walmart, the San Diego based company announced that it would be testing hydrogen next.California-based Achates Power, which recently announced the formation of the Hydrogen Opposed Piston Engine Working Group,also expressed optimism in reaching increasingly tough emissions goals with hydrogen combustion.

“It is possible that a hydrogen opposed piston combustion engine would be placed on par with a ZEV powertrain in terms of criteria emissions and net CO2,” said Achates Chief Commercial Officer Laurence Fromm. “The opposed-piston engine would likely have advantages – potentially large advantages – in lower cost to purchase and longer service life.

Fromm cautioned against dismissing internal combustion, the world's long-standing workhorse, as legislators and major manufacturers around the globe increase the pace of emissions reduction.

“Until, as a society, we’ve established there are capable, practical, cost-effective and durable solutions we would be foolish to abandon any potential solution,” Fromm continued. “It will be a great advance for the world if we have capable, practical, cost-effective and durable battery electric and/or fuel cells solutions that use sustainably sourced, affordable energy in large volumes around the globe. But until we do, we need to consider solutions that will get much closer to our goals much faster.”

The European-based Hydrogen Engine Alliance, which counts Cummins, Daimler Truck, Isuzu, Webasto, BorgWarner and Bosch among its growing membership, sees hydrogen combustion as a viable option for cleaning up emissions in Europe.

“Indeed the European Commission acknowledges hydrogen engines for [medium and heavy-duty] as zero CO2 emission vehicles given the use of green hydrogen,” said Hydrogen Engine Alliance founding board member Dr. Marco Warth. “A draft for legislation has been prepared, but not yet ratified.”

(Video) Grey to Green Hydrogen with Cummins

Fighting the good fight

No matter the progress, convincing legislators to place hydrogen ICE in the mix with zero-emission all-electric and fuel cells has not been easy since they still emit pollutants, albeit at reduced numbers versus conventional diesel and gasoline engines.

Last week, the European Union voted to nix hydrogen and other green ICE fuels in its quest for zero emission cars. CCJ reached out to the EU for comments on hydrogen combustion in commercial trucks but had not heard back by deadline.

In the meantime, decision makers at CARB will continue considering hydrogen combustion one engine at a time.

Cummins hoping hydrogen ICE gets zero-emission status (3)“The EPA and CARB haven’t processed this technology fully to understand it,” Cummins general manager of hydrogen engine business Jim Nebergall said. “Do they want to call it a ZEV? Do they want to classify it as that? Or is it a partial ZEV? They’re working through that. I think the industry would benefit if they did classify it as [ZEV]."Cummins“Hydrogen combustion vehicles are novel, still emit combustion by-products, and face a range of durability and performance questions, among other policy matters,” CARB Executive Officer Craig Segall told CCJ. “There is an acute need to move towards true zero emission vehicles, though CARB would carefully evaluate any hydrogen combustion vehicles.”

CARB does have a history of extending compliance to some hydrogen engines, though it didn’t exactly go as planned.

“In prior light-duty ZEV regulations, we have allowed internal combustion engine H2 fueled vehicles to earn credits towards compliance, but they were still not counted as actual ZEVs,” Larios explained.

“Our rationale was that a population of such vehicles would be able to run on a more renewable fuel (assuming a future where H2 is produced through a better process to be considered renewable/clean energy) and that they could bolster the demand for H2 infrastructure along with fuel cell electric vehicles,” Larios continued. “No manufacturer ever really used these provisions.”

(Video) Toyota's Developing A Hydrogen Combustion Engine!

Cummins, which announced its membership in the Hydrogen Engine Alliance last week, is making its journey to zero emissions by 2050 with a variety of powertrains which in addition to hydrogen ICE include fuel cell, all-electric, propane, natural gas and gasoline.

Cummins has a long history of working with regulators — which in the U.S. includes the EPA and CARB — to help develop tough, clear and enforceable standards that lead to a cleaner, healthier and safer environment,” said Katie Zarich, Cummins director of on-highway communications.“With respect to hydrogen ICE, we continue to share our perspective regarding how this practical zero-carbon technology can help accelerate the adoption of zero greenhouse gas emissions solutions in fleets, which find the familiarity and relative affordability of Hydrogen internal combustion engines very appealing."


Is Cummins Going hydrogen? ›

Cummins has recently announced its plan to leverage existing platforms and expertise in spark ignited technology to build hydrogen engines. The high commonality among engine components between diesel and hydrogen leverages scale advantages for OEMs, while delivering the reliability that farmers need,” added Schmelzer.

Is Cummins working on a hydrogen engine? ›

Cummins is planning to offer two hydrogen internal combustion engines, available in 6.7 and 15 liter variants. The engines are a part of Cummins' new fuel agnostic platform, where below the head gasket each fuel type's engine remains the same.

Can ICE engines be converted to hydrogen? ›

That said, a possibility does exist for retrofitting conventional gasoline-powered internal combustion engine cars into H2-powered vehicles. This involves hydrogen ICE conversions. This will not result in a GHG emission-free vehicle, but it will substantially reduce emissions.

Is hydrogen combustion zero-emission? ›

Although the production of hydrogen may generate emissions affecting air quality, depending on the source, an FCEV running on hydrogen emits only water vapor and warm air as exhaust and is considered a zero-emission vehicle.

Why hydrogen is not the future? ›

Sure, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and it's only used as an energy carrier, so it doesn't get used up in a fuel cell. However, it doesn't exactly grow on trees either, and there are no underground “hydrogen pockets” that we can simply pump it out from.

Do hydrogen engines have a future? ›

With the right infrastructure in place, hydrogen cars could become a viable option for those looking for a clean and sustainable way to power their vehicles — if not now, definitely in the future.

Why is hydrogen not good for fuel? ›

Some of hydrogen's properties require additional engineering controls to enable its safe use. Specifically, hydrogen has a wide range of flammable concentrations in air and lower ignition energy than gasoline or natural gas, which means it can ignite more easily.

Is Dodge working on a hydrogen V8? ›

The final result was impressive, a successful hydrogen V8 that can produce 800 horsepower. Muscle car fans will have to wait until late 2023 to see dodge's new Hydra, it has to undergo further rigorous testing as the technology in it is still rather new.

Is Dodge developing a hydrogen engine? ›

The famed Dodge brand has been working on a Hydra-engine; a hydrogen-powered engine that will replace the 800-horsepower engine that currently works as the option in the Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle car choices.

What are the disadvantages of using hydrogen in an engine? ›

What are the Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cells?
  • Hydrogen Extraction. ...
  • Investment is Required. ...
  • Cost of Raw Materials. ...
  • Regulatory Issues. ...
  • Overall Cost. ...
  • Hydrogen Storage. ...
  • Infrastructure. ...
  • Highly Flammable.

Why don't we use hydrogen for engines? ›

Safety concerns. The need for onboard hydrogen fuel tanks has created safety concerns and limited the uptake of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Auto manufacturers like Toyota have been quick to rebuke these concerns, maintaining that FCEVs are just as safe as their petrol and diesel-powered counterparts.

Why hydrogen is not used as a coolant? ›

But hydrogen's low density, high specific heat and thermal conductivity make it a superior coolant for this application. Plus, it's abundant and therefore relatively inexpensive. The problem is, hydrogen can be dangerous. In its pure state, hydrogen is fine, but a mixture of air and hydrogen can be explosive.

Why hydrogen is not a cure for emissions? ›

Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not a primary energy source in itself. This means that it requires outside energy at each step – for its production, then for its compression or liquefaction when it's stored, and for its delivery and ultimate use.

Can a diesel truck be converted to hydrogen? ›

Researchers in Australia have created a method to convert current diesel engines to burn hydrogen, possibly reducing their carbon emissions by over 85%. Engineers further claim that if the technology is developed, diesel truck engines may be converted to reduce pollution in Australia “immediately and significantly.”

Is hydrogen greener than electric? ›

As with electric cars, hydrogen cars produce zero harmful emissions on the road, but unlike electric cars, which take a fair amount of time to recharge, hydrogen cars can be refilled about as quickly as a petrol or diesel car.

What are 3 disadvantages of hydrogen? ›

The disadvantages of using hydrogen as fuel
  • If it is “grey”, it pollutes. If it is not produced using renewable sources, hydrogen pollutes. ...
  • It is a gas that is difficult to handle. ...
  • It is less advantageous than electric power for cars.
18 Jul 2022

Is hydrogen a threat to Tesla? ›

And those numbers decrease when we talk about the global car market. The only thing really holding FCEVs back is infrastructure, and as hydrogen stations become more abundant, Tesla could lose the majority of the zero-emissions market.

Will hydrogen cars overtake electric? ›

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature has confirmed what common sense has made clear for years: Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles aren't likely to catch up to battery-electric vehicles – even for commercial trucks.

Why does Elon Musk not like hydrogen? ›

Hydrogen projects using electrolysis have attracted interest from major companies and business leaders in recent years, but it would appear Musk is not a fan. “The efficiency of electrolysis is … poor,” he told the Financial Times. “So you really are spending a lot of energy to ... split hydrogen and oxygen.

What is the major downside of hydrogen power? ›

Hydrogen Energy is Expensive

Electrolysis and steam reforming, the two main processes of hydrogen extraction, are extremely expensive. This is the real reason it's not heavily used across the world. Today, hydrogen energy is chiefly used to power most hybrid vehicles.

Is hydrogen going to replace gas? ›

It's likely that from 2026, any gas boilers installed will need to be 'hydrogen-ready'. This would mean that a heating engineer can change some parts of the boiler over to enable the boiler to operate using 100% hydrogen as a fuel source.

Is hydrogen a future fuel? ›

Hydrogen can produce energy in two ways. Hydrogen is combustible and so can be used in an internal combustion engine. Or it can mix with oxygen in a so-called fuel cell to produce electricity and steam as its exhaust gas. That electricity, in turn, can power a motor to run a car or a truck.

Does making hydrogen destroy water? ›

Yes, if you water split, you destroy water to make hydrogen and oxygen. But when you use hydrogen in a fuel cell it is mixed with air, and you make water all over again. So, it's a renewable cycle, and we won't run out of water by water-splitting to feed fuel cells.

What is the controversy of hydrogen? ›

Hydrogen can gain one electron and can become H− just like halogens (Group 17). It can also loose an electron and can become H+ just like alkali metals (Group 1). Hence the position of hydrogen is controversial in the modern periodic table.

Is Dodge Cancelling the V8? ›

Dodge announces 'Last Call' for V8-powered Challenger and Charger muscle cars. Dodge's V8-powered muscle cars are nearing the end of the assembly line. The automaker has announced that production of the current Challenger and Charger will end in December 2023 before they are replaced by a new electric vehicle platform.

Is Toyota working on hydrogen? ›

These include a bus called the Sora and prototypes of heavy-duty trucks. Alongside fuel cells, Toyota is looking at using hydrogen in internal combustion engines.

What will Dodge replace the V8 with? ›

There will actually be two different Hurricane inline-six engines, both displacing 3.0 liters and fed by two turbochargers. One will be geared towards fuel economy and everyday use, while the second will be designed for performance applications.

Who is building hydrogen trucks? ›

In addition to Nikola, companies including Cummins, General Motors, Toyota, Volvo and Daimler are all developing different types of hydrogen-powered trucks that will start hitting the market next year. Battery trucks, which Nikola already sells, work well on shorter runs, ideally less than 300 miles.

Why is hydrogen not sustainable? ›

The report from Earthjustice states that most hydrogen production pollutes communities and drives a climate breakdown, with it being responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entirety of Germany.

Is hydrogen better than EV? ›

Hydrogen-fueled cars have some advantages over EVs. They can run for 300 miles, and fueling up takes 10 minutes. EVs can go about 200 miles, and juicing up can take 45 minutes. EVs lose range in cold weather.

Why is hydrogen production bad? ›

But when emitted into the atmosphere, hydrogen contributes to climate change by increasing the amounts of other greenhouse gases such as methane, ozone and water vapor, resulting in indirect warming.

How much does a gallon of hydrogen fuel cost? ›

Hydrogen fuel is much more efficient than gasoline, but it's also four times more expensive, roughly equivalent to about $16 a gallon.

Is hydrogen cheaper than gasoline? ›

On average, gasoline cars get 30 mpg and midsize gasoline hybrids 42 mpg. As can be seen in the figure, FCV fuel cost is three times higher per mile than a gasoline hybrid and two times higher than that of a conventional gasoline vehicle.

Is hydrogen good for climate change? ›

Unlike carbon dioxide, hydrogen does not have a direct effect on climate. Instead, it affects other pollutants. Increased hydrogen in our air means that methane, the second-most important global warming gas, would stay in our air for longer and have more impact.

Why is water not flammable with hydrogen? ›

Water is made up of two elements, hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is flammable, but oxygen is not. Flammability is the ability of a combustible material with an adequate supply of oxygen (or another oxidiser) to sustain enough heat energy to keep a fire going after it has been ignited.

Is hydrogen worse than CO2? ›

Hydrogen will be one of humanity's key weapons in the war against carbon dioxide emissions, but it must be treated with care. New reports show how fugitive hydrogen emissions can indirectly produce warming effects 11 times worse than those of CO2.

Will hydrogen burn in a diesel engine? ›

These data confirm that compression ignition of hydrogen is possible in a diesel engine at reasonable TDC conditions. In addition, the results show that DI hydrogen combustion rates are insensitive to reduced oxygen concentrations.

How many miles can a hydrogen truck go? ›

The advantages such a truck offers include a range of up to 620 miles (1,000km), a refuel time of less than 15 minutes, and the ability to carry very heavy loads to a maximum weight of 65 tons.

Is hydrogen more efficient than diesel? ›

Sept 18 (Reuters) - Hydrogen fuel cell maker Loop Energy (LPEN.TO) said on Sunday that its latest cell system can deliver better fuel economy than a diesel engine at current price levels.

Which country is leading in green hydrogen? ›

China. China is the leader of the global hydrogen market with an output of 20 million tons, accounting for ⅓ of global production. Sinopec aims to generate 500,000 tonnes of green hydrogen by 2025.

Is there a future for green hydrogen? ›

Green hydrogen has the potential to help store intermittent renewable energy; be converted to a “zero-emissions” fuel for maritime shipping and aviation; be used in high-heat industrial processes that cannot otherwise be electrified; or, be used as a feedstock in some industrial processes, like steel production.

Who is leading green hydrogen? ›

Highlights: The total pipeline capacity for green hydrogen is now 38 mtpa, representing almost 90% of the total low carbon hydrogen upcoming capacity. CWP Global, H2 Clean Energy, InterContinental Energy, Svevind, Kazakh Investment and Air Products are the leading companies proposing to develop the most capacity.

Is Dodge working on a hydrogen engine? ›

April 5th, 2022 by Brad R. The Hydra is coming, the hydrogen-powered engine that will replace the 800-horsepower engine that currently sits in the Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle car options.

Did Cummins buy Hydrogenics? ›

Hydrogenics is now owned 81% by Cummins and 19% by Air Liquide.

Why don t more cars run on hydrogen? ›

The vast majority of car companies have turned away from hydrogen because of the high density of energy consumed in its production, as well as poor funding and backing from governments, which is stopping the hydrogen revolution from expanding ever more.

What is the best hydrogen stock to invest in? ›

Best Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Stocks to Buy in 2022
  • Fusion Fuel Green PLC (NASDAQ:HTOO)
  • Westport Fuel Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:WPRT)
  • Ballard Power Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:BLDP)
  • Bloom Energy Corporation (NYSE:BE)
  • Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ:PLUG)
10 Oct 2022

Who is the biggest hydrogen producer? ›

China. China consumes and produces more hydrogen than any other country – its current annual usage is more than 24 million tonnes.

What company is the leader in hydrogen fuel cells? ›

Largest hydrogen fuel cell companies by market cap
1Plug Power 1PLUG🇺🇸
2Doosan Fuel Cell 2336260.KS🇰🇷 Korea
3Ballard Power Systems 3BLDP🇨🇦
4Nikola 4NKLA🇺🇸
4 more rows

Is Ford going hydrogen? ›

In fact, Ford didn't even bother to develop a hybrid powertrain for the all-new 2023 Super Duty, and is instead focusing its efforts on a pair of pilot programs that involve hydrogen fuel-cell powered versions of those trucks for a pair of utility companies – SoCalGas and Ferguson Enterprises.

Will Tesla move to hydrogen? ›

“No,” he replied. “I really can't emphasize this enough — the number of times I've been asked about hydrogen, it might be … it's well over 100 times, maybe 200 times,” he said. “It's important to understand that if you want a means of energy storage, hydrogen is a bad choice.”

Is Toyota still investing in hydrogen? ›

As for hydrogen engines, we see some quite difficult technological challenges. So, about 10 years ago, we decided this would not become mainstream. Meanwhile, Toyota continues to promote hydrogen cars while also expanding BEVs… all while still aggressively pushing gasoline hybrids.

Will hydrogen vehicles take over? ›

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature has confirmed what common sense has made clear for years: Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles aren't likely to catch up to battery-electric vehicles – even for commercial trucks. The auto industry has been divided on solutions to remove emissions from their products.

Are hydrogen engines less powerful? ›

Although hydrogen carries a high amount of energy by weight, it's far less dense than liquid fuels, so port-injected engines, in which fuel is injected into the inlet manifold and mixed with air outside of the cylinders, yield significantly less power running on hydrogen than they do on petrol.


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