Dept. of Energy – HICE Durability Testing Project

U.S. Department of Energy – HICE Durability Testing Project

The U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), under the Funding Opportunity Announcement No. DE-PS26-06NT42801, entitled “Alternative Hydrogen Production Pathway and Hydrogen Utilization” has awarded eTec $1.247 million for its application entitled “Investigation of Hydrogen-Fueled Internal Combustion Engine Durability.”

The total project, valued at $1.889 million investigates the durability of an internal combustion engine (ICE) running on pure hydrogen gas. The project is divided into four tasks. An abbreviated description of the project is provided below:

Task 1: Laboratory Accelerated Durability Testing
Laboratory testing will center on the long-term durability of the complete engine system. A 6.0-liter V-8 engine will be assembled using the design develop by eTec and Roush Industries, installed on an engine dynamometer test cell operated by Roush prepared specifically for hydrogen and operated for 1000 hours at various performance levels. Engine wear and oil samples will be evaluated at the end of the test period.

Task 2: Field Testing of Diverse Fleets
Field testing will include operation of 8 light-duty HICE pickup trucks converted by eTec and Roush Industries. Vehicles will be operated for a minimum of 12,000 miles per year (each) for two years in typical commuting and transportation service. Records on fuel, maintenance will be collected and analyzed. Tail pipe emissions will be tested on two converted trucks prior to the field testing.

Task 3: Assessment of Durability Risks and Recommendations for Risk Reduction
Upon completion of laboratory and field testing, all operating and engine teardown data will be assembled for review. The data will be analyzed to determine factors impacting engine durability and performance (emissions and power).

Task 4: Reporting
Task reports will be prepared upon completion of each of the tasks. A Final report presenting the results of Task 3 assessments will be prepared which incorporates the final reports for Tasks 1 & 2.

Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra HICE Conversion

eTec-Roush Hydrogen ICE Silverado Truck

Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec), with technical support from our project partners Roush Industries and Powertech Labs have developed the HICE Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500HD 6 passenger 100% Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine Truck (“HICE Silverado”).

The HICE Silverado is an OEM-quality conversion of the 1500HD vehicle platform utilizing the Vortec 6.0 Liter V8 engine. For this development effort, ETEC partnered with other experts in the automotive and gas systems field. Roush Industries is a major automotive engineering and low-volume manufacturing company that services automotive OEM’s and Tier One Suppliers in all areas of automotive engineering, development and testing. Powertech Labs is a wholly owned subsidiary of BC Hydro operating 18 Labs at its Surrey BC facility with approximately 80 professional engineers, scientists and technologists and is world-renowned in hydrogen storage component and systems design, testing and certification. With the expertise of ETEC, Roush and Powertech, the HICE Silverado is built to the latest standards (both established CNG standards and those in draft form for hydrogen) and to the highest quality.

Although HICE technology is not considered as technically advanced as fuel cells by some, a significant amount of research and development effort was required to achieve the desired performance and tailpipe emissions goals. Integration with the existing GM platform includes replacement of the original GM Powertrain Control Module (PCM) to provide the flexibility required for proper engine calibration, instrumentation and vehicle systems operation and control for the automatic transmission to properly operate with the power curve of the HICE engine.

Of the first 9 HICE Silverados in production, eight will participate in the “Integrated Wasted Hydrogen Utilization Project (IWHUP)” a 3-year, 18 million dollar (Cdn) initiative sponsored by several departments of the provincial and Canadian federal government. The ninth truck will participate in the DOE Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity (AVTA) under the FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program which will perform vehicle durability and performance tests and publish the results on the AVTA website.

The HICE Silverado has excellent performance and versatility with 195 Hp / 265ft.lbs of torque, 6-passenger capability and a range of 210 miles (EPA Highway driving schedule).

Although more advancements and refinements are always desired, the performance and emission results of the current HICE Silverado are very encouraging. Delivery of the first few HICE Silverados has begun and customer feedback has been extremely positive.

HICE Silverado Development Background

Development of the HICE Silverado can be broken down into the following major development categories:

  • Mechanical engine modifications
  • Engine control hardware and software integration efforts
  • HICE Silverado Fuel System Integration
  • HICE Silverado Final Engine and Transmission Calibration

Mechanical Engine Modifications

The Vortec 6.0L V8 engine selected (shown in the accompanying pictures) provided some unique advantages including:

  • Available with desired truck platform
  • Alt Fuel Engine option (CNG & Propane) available that provides internal components designed for traditional alternative gaseous fuels that is also beneficial for use with Hydrogen
  • High horsepower rating of 300 hp @ 4400 rpm (gasoline fuel)
  • High torque rating of 360 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm (gasoline fuel)

Performance goals were established early on in the development program that focused on a “lean-burn” strategy to achieve very low NOx emissions while trying to maintain acceptable horsepower and torque performance for the Silverado HD1500 truck platform. Integration of a Lysholm supercharger to the intake manifold and large liquid- to-air intercooler provide the added air-boost to meet this requirement. Gaseous fuel injectors designed for use with Hydrogen are installed on the engine using custom fuel rails with fuel temperature and pressure sensors. Additional engine modifications include the integration of an OEM electronic throttle and replacement of the standard spark plugs with custom plugs designed to operate in the Hydrogen fuel environment.

Summarizing the engine modifications:

  • Integration of Lysholm supercharger to intake manifold
  • Integration of large liquid to air intercooler
  • Integration of OEM electronic throttle
  • Integration of fuel-specific fuel injectors, fuel rails and sensors
  • Selection of spark plugs for operation in hydrogen combustion environment