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Sustainable. Clean. Uncompromising. The Internal Combustion Engine Becomes Green

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - H2Engine (Sustainable. Clean. Uncompromising. The Internal Combustion Engine Becomes Green)

Reporting period: 2020-09-01 to 2021-08-31

The internal combustion engine is the most widely used and highly developed machine available for medium to heavy-duty trucking. However, fossil fuels cause enormous damage to the environment and health of people and the planet. With the conversion of a fossil fuel-based engine to a hydrogen-propelled one, it is possible to decarbonize the transport industry while at the same time continuing to use existing high-tech know-how as well as production and maintenance infrastructure. On the one hand, saving CO2 by drawing on existing production facilities, and on the other hand, the jobs of thousands of skilled workers and precious materials needed for batteries or fuel cells.

In this project, a commercial vehicle is equipped with a hydrogen combustion engine to test and qualify it for pre-series production. The vehicle is a two-axle 18-ton truck.

The focus of this project is on propulsion technology. Therefore, the diesel engine of the base vehicle is replaced by a 7.8-liter hydrogen engine equipped with KEYOU-inside technology. KEYOU GmbH uses a conventional diesel series engine from German manufacturer DEUTZ as the base for the new engine, enabling it to run on hydrogen.

The main objective of the project: the hydrogen engine, including all hydrogen-specific components as well as the hydrogen combustion process, should be further developed from the proof-of-concept state - stationary operation - to transient operation as required for use in a vehicle. Subsequently, the engine will be installed in a truck to be tested in real-life operation to qualify as proven zero-emission technology according to the clean-vehicle-directive of the European Union (Directive (EU) 2019/1161, Article 4(5)).
The work performed in the first 12 months of the project can be divided into three parts:
Part 1: The technical development to install a hydrogen internal combustion engine into a vehicle, thus elevating it from test-bench operation in stationary mode (TRL 6) to transient operation in a fully functional vehicle (TRL 9):
• Hardware components of vehicle and engine were modularized to streamline development efforts
• Virtual assessment, assembly of engine, and vehicle components
• Development of modular software architecture for KEYOU engine component operation as well as communication between engine and vehicle
• Hydrogen specific approval of components with TÜV Süd in preparation for quality approval and an individual road permit for the demonstrator vehicle

Part 2: Market and business development in preparation for series production of hydrogen combustion engines:
• Establishment of partnerships with TIER1 automotive suppliers to prepare future series production of KEYOU components by competent manufacturers
• Planning and construction of production line with partners
• Negotiation of IP utilization and commercial exploitation with partners
• Creating leads in Europe, Asia, and the USA; acquiring new OEM customer projects for the development of hydrogen engines based on existing models
• Further development of business model and acquisition of new investors
• Participation in various (virtual) industry events (e.g. fairs and symposia) to increase the visibility of the hydrogen engine technology

Part 3: Operational efforts:
• Preparation of quality management for ISO 9001 certification
• Preparation for the establishment of an after-sales department
• Project management department was streamlined and enlarged to care for various new engine and vehicle projects
• Setup of a new website as well as increase visibility in social media
• Setup of an internal and external newsletter
KEYOU developed the first hydrogen internal combustion engine that is efficient enough to expect a similar or lower total cost of ownership for vehicle operators as they are accustomed to with diesel vehicles. With the installation of the engine into a vehicle this concept, as it’s first of a kind worldwide, can be tested in real operation for the first time.

Due to decarbonisation efforts worldwide vehicle operators are looking to switch their fleets to vehicles that can use renewable energies such as renewable electricity or green hydrogen. However, with currently available technologies they have to restructure their business model du to higher capital and operational costs of zero-emission vehicles, additionally, battery vehicles will not be able to perform well in the heavy-duty segment. With KEYOU’s technology we can finally offer end-users a solution that is cost effective, as well as environmentally sound and it does not disrupt their mode of operation. Maintenance of a hydrogen engine is possible for any worker who is trained on diesel or gas engine vehicles. Additionally, existing production and value-chains for conventional engines can be converted easily for the production of hydrogen engines, this omitting CO2 emissions, high costs, and efforts in the erection of new production facilities while at the same time jobs of skilled workers are being saved.

By the end of the project the demonstrator vehicle will be handed to an end-customer for testing and collecting technical feedback on the performance, which will be used for the production of a pre-series fleet of trucks and buses. With the hydrogen engine KEYOU enriches the bouquet of technologies to counteract the climate change and support the Green New Deal objectives of the European Union.
Engine with KEYOU-inside components
KEYOU Prototype 18 ton Truck Model