Hydrogen combustion received another big boost recently with the official debut of the Cummins B6.7H hydrogen-powered combustion engine at the IAA Transportation Expo in Germany. According to Cummins, the H2-ICE project highlights commercial truck applications across the 10-to-26-ton gross vehicle weight, with an expected range of up to 500 kilometers or some 310 miles.
The Cummins H2-ICE powertrain was installed into a Mercedes-Benz Atego 4×2 truck for IAATE, the truck was chosen for its versatility and popularity in the European multi-drop distribution haulage industry. The proof-of-concept B6.7H installation is rated for 290 hp, it generates 885 ft-lbs (1,200 Nm) of torque, and is fed by a high-pressure hydrogen storage system that lives between the truck’s frame rails. The B6.7H hydrogen combustion engine is a derivative of Cummins’ fuel-agnostic modular engine program announced earlier this year.
According to Cummins, H2-ICE performance and integration are equivalent to that of the company’s B series diesel engine. Because it was born from a common agnostic block it’s compatible with the same transmissions, drivelines, and cooling packages already used by Cummins customers. The B6.7H is also said to be significantly quieter running than a diesel, which would be a huge plus in urban centers.
The seamless substitution of the Atego’s diesel engine with the 6.7-liter hydrogen engine highlights the ability of Cummins H2-ICE to offer an easy transition for fleets to zero-carbon solutions with no impact on performance, cargo capacity, or payload. It also helps preserve much of Cummin’s existing production facilities and expertise. We’re big fans of the lower cost and easier-to-deploy technology path hydrogen seems to offer.
Cummins partnered with hydrogen storage specialist NPROXX to develop a pair of integrated hydrogen tanks with a 700-bar (10,000 psi) working pressure to increase the total storage capacity. The tanks are neatly tucked between the chassis frame rails and can accommodate about 40 kg of hydrogen, with an available 10 kg auxiliary tank. The tanks are structurally reinforced with carbon fiber.
As for refueling, the Cummins-designed fuel control module integrates the fuel refill point, the fuel filtration system, and the fuel distribution into one single unit conveniently located near the truck’s doors. Refilling the truck with hydrogen is estimated to take just 10 minutes.
Cummins says the combination of high-capacity hydrogen storage, and the efficiency provided by direct-injection lean-burn combustion allow the H2-ICE B6.7H to travel for some 500 km (310 miles) which is significantly more than a battery-electric powered truck of the same size.
Earlier this week Cummins and Tata motors agreed to collaborate on the design and development of H2-ICE systems for commercial vehicles in India. The agreement is a continuation of a joint venture which has seen Tata build Cummins B series engines for installation in Tata commercial vehicles since 1993.
Don’t forget, a version of the Cummins B series engine is currently powering diesel RAM HD trucks, it’s entirely possible we could one day see a Cummins H2-ICE powered RAM truck.