How do hydrogen engines work?

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Hydrogen is an increasingly popular energy carrier. It can be readily produced from water using renewable electricity, and it burns without any greenhouse gas emissions. It is colorless, odorless, and does not spill. It’s no wonder there is a great interest in hydrogen engines as a part of destination zero.

 

How hydrogen fuel can power a vehicle?

Using hydrogen to power an engine or motor is more straight forward than you might think. There are two ways to do this. 

The first way involves a device known as a fuel cell. The fuel cell converts hydrogen to electricity, which then powers the vehicle’s electric motors, just like in any electric vehicle. 

The other way is hydrogen engines; internal combustion engines that burn hydrogen as the fuel. Either method has its advantages and applications where they are best suited. However, the latter, using internal combustion engines is a more familiar technology.

In fact, one of the very first internal combustion engines ran on a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen—and featured an electric spark ignition mechanism. Its inventor, a former Swiss artillery officer named François Isaac de Rivaz, used it to build a vehicle that could carry heavy loads over short distances. 

 

Diesel engine vs. natural gas engine vs. hydrogen engine

Today, if you saw a modern internal combustion engine designed to run on hydrogen, you might not know that it’s not meant for natural gas. Four-stroke hydrogen internal combustion engines (Hydrogen ICE) operate on the same cycle as regular natural gas engines and have almost the same components—engine block, crank, cylinder heads, ignition system, installation parts, and so on. 

Diesel engines and hydrogen engines also share similar components. These include an engine block, crank, and installation parts such as mounts and flywheel housings. 

At Cummins Inc., we are leveraging our existing platforms and expertise in spark ignited technology to build hydrogen engines. Our hydrogen engine is a spark ignited engine variant with similar engine hardware to natural gas and gasoline engines.

This high commonality among engine components introduces scale advantages. This economies of scale is critical in the transportation sector’s journey to lower emissions. It reduces costs and delivers the needed reliability.

There are also differences between hydrogen engines and other spark ignited engines such as natural gas and gasoline engines.

For example, differences in the physical properties of hydrogen impacts how fuel and air are metered and injected. Pre-ignition is a greater problem for hydrogen engines than for gasoline engines, because hydrogen is much easier to ignite. Direct injection is one way to overcome pre-ignition issues. Direct injection systems introduce fuel–hydrogen, in this case –directly into the cylinders, rather than into the intake manifold or ports. If the injection takes place at a time when the inlet valve is closed, backfire conditions are avoided. Another solution is to completely design the combustion system for hydrogen.  

Another consideration is the formation of nitrogen oxides, or NOx. NOx is an atmospheric pollutant which can cause poor air quality and lead to the brown-orange haze that forms above some large cities in the summer. 

When hydrogen burns in the presence of lots of oxygen, very little NOx is formed. However, when hydrogen burns with air fuel ratios that are near stoichiometric, a significant amount of NOx can be created. As a result, hydrogen engines are typically tuned to run lean with an excess air ratio of 2 or greater. This means that approximately twice as much air needs to be supplied to the cylinders than for a stoichiometric engine. Hydrogen engines often require an exhaust treatment system to remove this excess NOx. 

 

Can hydrogen engines work in medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses?

Hydrogen internal combustion engines are appealing to vehicle makers for two primary reasons. First is  their similarity with traditional internal combustion engines. Second is hydrogen’s ability to power vehicles as a zero-carbon fuel.

An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can build vehicles with hydrogen engines that are very similar to existing internal combustion engines. Most of the vehicle’s other components and software remain the same. 

Hydrogen engines are also attractive to end users. Hydrogen engines look, sound and work like the internal combustion engines that every mechanic in the world is used to. Their reliability and durability are equal to that of diesel engines. 

Cummins is currently testing hydrogen engines to mitigate the risks of hydrogen embrittlement and erosion. We will share our findings as our tests progress. 

Commercial fleet operators can purchase vehicles featuring hydrogen engines without the anxiety that might come from investing in a brand new technology.

Examples of hydrogen engines in the mobility and transportation sectors also go beyond medium and heavy-duty trucking. You can find users evaluating hydrogen engines in marine, construction,  and beyond.

So, you might not know immediately that a vehicle is designed for hydrogen if you saw its engine, but if you saw its fuel tank, you would know right away. Storing hydrogen onboard motor vehicles is  safe and becoming more economical and practical. Cummins has recently formed a joint venture with NPROXX, a leader in hydrogen storage and transportation for hydrogen storage tanks. This joint venture will provide customers with hydrogen and compressed natural gas storage products for both on-highway and rail applications. 

 

 

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Jim Nebergall

Jim Nebergall

Jim Nebergall is General Manager of the Hydrogen Engine Business at Cummins Inc. and leads the company’s global efforts in commercializing hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines. Hydrogen internal combustion engines are an important technology in the company’s accelerated path to decarbonization.    

Jim joined Cummins in 2002 and has held numerous leadership roles across the company. Most recently, Jim was the Director of Product Strategy and Management for the North American on-highway engine business. Jim is passionate about innovation and has dedicated his Cummins career to advancing technology that improves the environment. He pushed the boundaries of customer-focused innovation to position Cummins as the leading powertrain supplier of choice, managing a portfolio ranging from advanced diesel and natural gas to hybrid powertrains. 

Jim graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. In 2007, he completed his Master of Business Administration degree from Indiana University.

Home Standby Generators are smart tech and a smart choice

illustration of home with generator

This article was authored by Chuck McClaugherty, Bear Electric, a Cummins Authorized Dealer.

Smart phones, smart TVs, virtual assistants, smart thermostats, smart locks and doorbells. Our homes are now filled with smart devices. Unfortunately, most of them become useless without power to run or recharge. This is why homeowners should consider installing one smart device above all other: a home standby generator. 

As a Cummins Authorized Dealer, I install a lot of Cummins QuietConnect™ home standby generators throughout Oregon. With increasingly severe weather, rolling blackouts, and aging power grids, I can tell you without a doubt a backup generator is a worthwhile investment. 

The best part of owning one of these smart devices? You don’t have to tell it when to turn on and off. It does it automatically. 

In a nutshell, here’s the process:

When we install a Cummins home standby generator, we also install a Cummins automatic transfer switch. This transfer switch constantly monitors the electric utility power coming into the home. If it detects a break in service, it will automatically disconnect the home from the electric utility line in a split second and turn on the Cummins generator to power the home instead. The generator is fed either by a natural gas line or by a propane tank.

While the Cummins generator is powering the home, the transfer switch will continue to monitor the electric utility line. Once it detects that power has been restored, it’ll automatically disconnect the generator from the home’s electrical system and reconnect the electric utility.

You don’t have to do anything. Nada. Zilch. The generator and the transfer switch do all the work. In some cases, you may not even realize there’s a power outage until you look out the window and see all your neighbor’s houses are dark.

Just as critical as having a Cummins Authorized Dealer professionally install your backup generator and transfer switch is making sure you choose the right size generator for your home. If it’s too small, the load won’t be able to power everything in the house. If it’s too big, you’ll consume extra natural gas or propane when you use it.

The easiest way to make sure you select the right size generator is to have your dealer do it for you. But if you want to get a feel for how much generator you’re going to need, Cummins has an excellent blog post on calculating the generator wattage you need or you can use the generator size calculator at Cummins.com.

We live in a world full of smart devices. Make sure you can keep yours up and running during power outages with a Cummins QuietConnect home standby generator. To find a dealer near you, use the Cummins dealer locator. Or, if you live in Oregon, just contact me at (503) 678-3417 or [email protected] 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

1-800 Cummins software update

Sales and Service truck parked by bridge

Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) is pleased to announce that 1-800-CUMMINS will be offering software sales as an added feature. The suite of software supported by this new feature includes INSITE, QSOL, PowerSpec, INCAL, and Guidanz IA. Making this available through 1-800-CUMMINS will streamline customer handoffs, reduce downtime, and ensure our customers receive responsive and proactive software sales support, every time. 

What’s changing?

•    New Software Sales option on 1-800-CUMMINS™  
•    All calls to legacy numbers will be redirected to 1-800-CUMMINS™

What’s staying the same?

•    Customers can still call 1-800-CUMMINS™ for parts support, general product and service inquiries, and service provider technical assistance for engines, generators, and Cummins digital products. 

When did the change take place?

•    Monday, October 10, 2022

 “I am thrilled about this new offering we are providing our customers. Not only will this help them get the support they need faster, but it also helps reduce customer complexity,” added Greg Ehlinger, Executive Director, Centralized Solutions. “Our customers depend on us to power their business and having trusted solutions delivered easily and accessibly by experts who care is one way we are doing that.” 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Cummins Inc. and EDF Renewables enters into a distributed photovoltaic Power Purchase Agreement

contract signing ceremony

Covering seven manufacturing entities with a total installed capacity of 16.5 MWp, reducing carbon emissions in facilities and operations significantly.

Cummins China and EDF Renewables signed a distributed photovoltaic PowerPurchase Agreement in Beijing, aiming to cut down electricity consumption from traditional grids and reduce carbon emissions in Cummins facilities & operations. Cummins will provide the roof & ground space and will consume the generated solar power, EDF Renewables will be responsible for the investment, installation and operation of solar PV generation equipment. WANG Ning, Vice President of Cummins, and Erwann Debos, CEO of EDF Renewables China, completed the signing of the contract on behalf of both parties. 

EDF is a global leader in renewable energy, including wind and solar. EDF Renewables has profound technical capabilities and service experience in the field of photovoltaic power generation. The partnership will install distributed photovoltaic power generation system at 7 manufacturing entities in Beijing, Wuxi, Wuhan, Chongqing and Liuzhou . With a total installed capacity of 16.5 MW, the project can provide about 280 million kWh of power generation in 20 years, saving about 158,000 tons of carbon emissions. 

"We are pleased that Cummins and EDF are working together in the field of distributed photovoltaics to provide new opportunities for Cummins to expand green energy consumption and reduce emissions from plant operations. It will help Cummins achieve renewable electricity use accounting for more than 10% of total electricity consumption by 2023 in China region. This project will further enable our capability in green production and operation, and position us well for sustainable development,” said WANG Ning. 

At present, the use of building roof to install photovoltaic system is a very effective way for corporate customers to reduce their carbon emissions. Cummins and EDF signed a 20-year power purchase contract, which can achieve carbon emission reduction targets and electricity cost savings at the same time. 

Erwann Debos said at the signing ceremony, "We are honored to provide Cummins with distributed photovoltaic Renewables solutions to help Cummins achieve its PLANET 2050 strategic goals. EDF Renewables aims to work hand in hand with customers to provide the most advanced integrated energy management solutions around the low-carbon transformation of enterprises, and to empower the global energy transition."

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

5 businesses that can benefit from selling Cummins generators

Cummins dealer discussing home generator

Ninety percent of American business are small- and medium-size. They are the true engines of our economy, employing millions of workers. With many of them looking for new ways to expand their services, generate income and grow their businesses, Cummins home standby and portable generators could be a new source of revenue. 

A Silver Lining in Dark Clouds

According to the Associated Press, power outages from severe weather have doubled over the past two decades, straining our country’s aging power grid. This has increased the frequency and duration of power outages. These frequent outages create a need for reliable backup power for households and other businesses. And for enterprising small- and medium-size businesses, satisfying this need with Cummins generators is a huge opportunity.   

Which businesses could benefit the most from becoming Cummins authorized dealers? Here are our top five:

1. General Contractors — When natural disasters such as ice storms, hurricanes, high winds, forest fires or earthquakes hit, lost power isn’t the only challenge customers face. There is often physical damage to property that must be repaired. When they are helping customers to rebuild, general contractors have an opportunity to estimate home or business’s energy needs and suggest adding a Cummins QuietConnect™ Home Standby Generator. If the customer agrees, the general contractor not only profits from the sale of the generator, but also the labor to install it.

2. Electricians — A good electrician is a trusted source of information. Not only are they experts with the flow of electrons, they often know their customer’s specific electrical setups. After a prolonged power outage, many are often asked “Is there anything you can do to keep my electricity on the next time the power goes out?” Electricians who sell and install Cummins QuietConnect Home Standby Generators can say, “Yes, yes there is.” Installing home standby generators can be another valuable service that electricians provide.

3. Heating & Cooling Contractors — During a power outage, one of the most critical systems knocked offline for home and business owners is their central heating and cooling system. Going without heat or cool air for a long period of time is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous if the temperatures are extreme outside. So, naturally, once power is restored, finding a way to keep the HVAC system on during the next power outage becomes top-of-mind. Since heating and cooling contractors are experts at installing large systems in homes and businesses, adding Cummins QuietConnect standby generators to homes and businesses is a natural way to add another profit center to their businesses.

4. Online Retailers — Up until now, we’ve been discussing standby generators. For businesses that don’t specialize in installing generators permanently into place, Cummins portable generators can be a moneymaker.  While portable generators can be used during power outages, they are better suited to smaller tasks due to their portability. This makes them ideal for camping, tailgating, construction worksites and more. With Cummins’ rugged and reliable reputation, our portable generators are ideal for retailers focused on these market segments.

5. Solar Panel Installers — Most home solar panels are connected directly to the power grid. So, when the power goes out, the solar panels stop providing power. For a backup source of electricity, solar panel installers can either install a solar battery backup, which gets charged by the solar panels, or a home standby generator. Typically, solar battery backups can only power a home for a few hours, so if an area is prone to weather-related outages, a home standby generator such as the Cummins QuietConnect is the better choice.

The Time is Now

With more people than ever looking for backup power generation, now’s a great time to expand your company’s offerings by becoming a Cummins authorized dealer. To learn more visit, cummins.com/partners/dealers.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

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