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HYdrogen Combustion Engine

Project under the territorial unit of the R&D recovery plan of the DRARI Center Val de Loire
Duration ► 24 months
Start ► January 2022


On July 14, 2021, the European Commission adopted a set of voluntary and ambitious proposals in order to adapt the Union's policy, particularly in the field of climate, energy, agriculture and transport, in order to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 emissions and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. This roadmap called "FIT for 55" envisages reducing average greenhouse gas emissions of private vehicles and light commercial vehicles by 55% from 2030 and 100% from 2035 compared to 2021 levels. Thus only electric vehicles or vehicles using hydrogen can be marketed. To assume the supply, the distribution network will be reinforced in particular thanks to charging stations of at least 300kW every 60 km and Hydrogen refueling station and every 150 km in each urban node by 2030.

Green hydrogen is therefore one of the solutions adopted to meet these ambitious objectives and can be converted into electricity using a fuel cell or into mechanical energy if the hydrogen is used in an internal combustion engine. Thus in a context of transport, industry and energy production (generator), the optimal valorization of hydrogen must be privileged while controlling the cost of investment and operation of the Energy converter (battery with fuel or internal combustion engine).

Thus, taking into account performance, investment (CAPEX) and operating cost (OPEX), the internal combustion engine running on hydrogen is an elegant solution to meet future environmental challenges.



The HYCE project aims to propose urgently, that is to say within 24 months, solutions for converting internal combustion engines of the Diesel type into controlled ignition engines and thus saving the means of production existing in France at the OEMs and car/truck manufacturers; then to design new engines dedicated to the hydrogen combustion for new uses. More specifically, the HYCE project aims to develop and optimize hydrogen technologies (particularly injectors) in order to equip a wide range of internal combustion engines: small-displacement automobile-type engines, heavy-duty engines, generators, agricultural machinery or construction machinery.



The HYCE project will make it possible to combine the skills of BorgWarner Blois with those of the PRISME laboratory in order to effectively respond to industrial and scientific challenges, to quickly build skills and to shine in their respective fields of activity.


Work Plan

The numerical and experimental tasks will be carried out within the BorgWarner company. They will be based in particular on the computer center at BorgWarner and on the engine test cells at the BorgWarner Blois site. Specific experiments will be implemented within the PRISME laboratory in order to characterize the injectors by optical diagnostics. The use of single-cylinder PRISME search engines will make it possible to carry out studies in advance of the phase and to validate the concepts proposed by the digital task.

Mr. Jean Low-Kame, staff from University of Orleans hosted by BorgWarner for a period of 24 months, will be integrated into the Research and Development team for the Hydrogen internal combustion engine control product at the BorgWarner site in Blois . He will ensure the definition of methodologies in order to optimize the influential parameters of engine control and calibration to meet performance and emissions objectives. He will carry out and analyze the necessary tests for understanding the  hydrogen combustion on single and poly-cylinders, including specific tests for improving methodologies, and will adapt calibration techniques in order to improve the relevance of known methods on petrol or diesel engines.

Mr. Alexis Tinchon, staff from University of Orleans hosted by BorgWarner for a period of 24 months, will be integrated into the Research and Development team for the injector product for hydrogen internal combustion engines at the BorgWarner site in Blois. It will ensure the characterization of the injector spray on a visualization bench and its correlation with digital models as well as tests on an engine bench. He will propose, carry out and analyze the tests necessary for the characterization of a Hydrogen Spray, including specific tests for the improvement of numerical models. He will carry out numerical studies to create, improve and correlate CFD models.


Expected results

A numerical approach will make it possible to carry out injector 3D modeling in order to improve understanding of its operation according to the operating conditions (injection pressure, pressure and temperature of the medium in which the hydrogen is injected, electrical adjustment of the injection driver, etc…). Then combustion chamber geometries and injection strategies will be calculated in order to optimize the hydrogen-air mixture preparation  in order to reduce NOx emissions and the knocking appearance.

This numerical approach will be complemented by an experimental approach. The injectors will be tested on enclosures making it possible to reproduce the operating conditions encountered in internal combustion engines and optical diagnostics will make it possible to characterize the hydrogen spray. These measurements will be compared with the results obtained by 3D calculation. Tests on engine test benches (automotive engines and industrial engines) will make it possible to validate the various concepts of combustion chamber, injection strategies and engine control strategy.

Advanced injector characterization methods and 3D calculations associated with these measurements will be developed. Scientific promotion, in the form of publications and conferences, is expected.

The skills acquired during this project will enable BorgWarner Blois, the group's R&D competence center, to develop new products (injectors, engine control, etc.) specific to hydrogen combustion and thus maintain R&D and production employment. .



The study is fully in line with the objectives of supporting the transition to low-carbon technologies. It also aims to maintain employment on the national territory thanks to a diversification of the product offer of the BorgWarner company, jobs that are resilient to climate change.

By deploying technology allowing the rational use of hydrogen, the Hyce/I project will make it possible to meet the objective of carbon neutrality in the field of transport for vehicles and light commercial vehicles ("FIT 55" objectives in 2035) and the significant reduction in CO2 emissions from road transport and industry.


Contact : Fabrice FOUCHER ⇒