Alternative Fuel Overview

HEC specializes in designing fuel systems to run on “alternative fuels” such as hydrogen, natural gas, propane, syn-gas, and almost any other reasonable fuel, with the exception of diesel fuel.  The world’s ultimate energy objective is to develop a “Hydrogen Economy”.  Hydrogen is the fuel of choice, since when it is used to power an internal combustion engine (or fuel cell) the exhaust is nearly pollution free, since mostly water and heat are exhausted.

Hydrogen is the simplest, most prolific, and lightest element on the planet. Hydrogen is not normally available in a gaseous state in our environment, since it readily combines with oxygen to form water, or with carbon to form fossil fuels such as crude oil, natural gas, or coal.

The production and use of hydrogen presents several challenges. It is costly to produce and store, and as a result, its use in most situations, does not make economic sense.

Hydrogen is probably the most difficult fuel on which to tune an engine.  Hydrogen ignites and gives off a burst of energy and heat when it comes in contact with oxygen.  Even though this is one of the things that makes hydrogen desirable, this explosion must be precisely be controlled, taking place only once inside of the combustion chamber of the internal combustion engine (ICE).

For years at HEC, we were only able to produce approximately 100 kW of power with hydrogen, with a single genset.  When the engine reached a certain heat level, the ICE would start to backfire, making higher levels of power impossible.  It was only with many sleepless nights, attention to detail, and perseverance, that we were able to find a solution.  After numerous false starts, a truly unique intake manifold was born.

HEC can now produce 200 kW or more of power with hydrogen fuel, and higher power levels with some other fuels, such as propane or natural gas.  With the use of our new intake manifold, this can be done without a single backfire; truly a major accomplishment!

As mentioned above, hydrogen presents several important challenges.  The storage and transportation of hydrogen is probably its most major challenge, which we will not discuss in-depth at this time.  Hydrogen gas is a low BTU-Value Fuel, with about 270 BTU per cubic foot when it is in a gaseous state.  As a comparison with natural gas, which has approximately 1029 BTU per cubic foot of gas, hydrogen has about one fourth of the BTU’s.  As a result, in order to produce our objective power levels, we have found it necessary to increase the displacement in our largest engine to 9.4 liter.  This was necessary, plus the use of electronic injection, to get enough hydrogen into the engine to achieve higher power levels.

Even increasing the displacement and solving the backfire problem still wasn’t enough to reach 200 kW.  Another major HEC ACHIEVEMENT, which was a key development, was the use of our special HEC patented alignment hub, which made it possible to run our engines at 3600 rpm, twice the speed of what our competitors normally operate their gensets.  By combining all of these innovations, have made it possible for HEC to distinguish itself, by producing more power with a single genset.