Cummins pushes ahead with hydrogen engines

May 19, 2022

Chuck Robinson

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Cummins Inc. has recently made two announcements regarding hydrogen engines.

The engine maker has not only unveiled a new 15-liter hydrogen engine, but it also has recently announced a partnership with Daimler Truck North America to put Cummins hydrogen-fueled powertrains in Freightliner Cascadias.

Cummins’ 15-liter hydrogen engine

Hydrogen engines burn hydrogen in an internal combustion engine, similar to how diesel or gasoline are used in an engine. Hydrogen internal combustion engines are similar to traditional spark-ignition engines, Cummins explained in a January 2022 article. Internal combustion engines tend to be most efficient under high load, which is suitable for heavy trucks that haul big loads as compared to battery-electric or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

The company describes the new 15-liter engine as being built on a “new fuel-agnostic platform.”

“Below the head gasket each fuel type’s engine has largely similar components, and above the head gasket each has different components for different fuel types,” the company explained in a news release.

The hydrogen engine is expected to go into production in 2027. Hydrogen-powered engines are expected to produce zero carbon emissions.

“While use cases for battery electric and fuel cell electric powertrains are promising, the pairing of green hydrogen in the proven technology of internal combustion engines provides an important complement to future zero-emissions solutions,” Srikanth Padmanabhan, president for engine business for Cummins, said in a news release.

Cummins announced testing hydrogen internal combustion technology in July 2021. So far, the company has produced a medium-duty engine with 810 ft-lbs torque and 290 hp. Further testing on its more advanced prototypes is planned.

The company reports that it intends to produce hydrogen internal combustion engines in 15-liter and 6.7-liter displacements.

“Our customers are responding favorably to this practical technology. These engines look like engines, they sound like engines, and fit where engines normally fit,” Jim Nebergall, general manager for hydrogen engines at Cummins, said in a news release.

Freightliner Cascadia collaboration

Cummins Inc. recently announced an agreement to install its hydrogen fuel cell powertrain in Freightliner Cascadia trucks in North America. Freightliner will leverage Cummins’ fourth-generation fuel cell powertrain, which provides improved power density, efficiency and durability.

Upon successful validation of the compatibility, the companies intend to have initial units available in 2024 for selected customers, according to a news release.

“Cummins and Daimler Truck have a strong history of partnership, and this next step into fuel cell electric vehicles is an exciting development for zero-emissions transport,” Amy Davis, vice president and president of new power at Cummins, said in a news release. “Hydrogen fuel cells are a promising solution for the demanding requirements of heavy-duty trucking. Our collaboration in this market is an important milestone for both companies as we work to accelerate the shift to a carbon-free economy.”

Columbus, Ind.-based Cummins Inc. is a multinational corporation that designs, manufactures and distributes engines, filtration, and power generation products. It was founded in 1919 and is an S&P 500 company. LL

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Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.