HEC-TINA, Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Hydrogen Engine Center (HEC), is working to improve the efficiency of electrical generators powered by internal combustion engines. It envisions improvements from 30 percent to more than 60 percent for all fuels with an emphasis on hydrogen.
A new Memorandum of Understanding will enable cooperation in the field of hydrogen combustion engines for energy generation, giving HEC-TINA the opportunity to interact with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory.
HEC-TINA’s work aims to improve HEC’s plate engine design with advanced technologies from INL. The laboratory can provide advanced 3D printing and materials, such as carbon fibers, to strengthen and reduce the cost of the new genset.
The HEC-TINA team expects to achieve more than 60 percent Combined Power and Electrical (CPE) that is being recovered from the exhaust heat. A standard gasoline engine could go from 30 percent to 50 percent efficiency with little change, while the newly designed hydrogen engine could exceed 70 percent efficiency.
Ted Hollinger, President of HEC-TINA, thinks that 80 percent efficiency can be realistically achieved with the advanced design that is currently being developed. When the results of the work are commercialized, the cost of producing power from any fuel could be cut by 50 percent or more. Propane and natural gas powered electrical generators will be cost effective and produce fewer emissions. Furthermore, doubling the efficiency could reduce the size of an electrolyzer and its storage tanks by half, meaning the system could produce twice the power.
The proposed product line ranges from the small 1.7-liter two-cylinder plate engine to a three-cylinder 22.3-liter plate engine. Paralleling of these engines has already been achieved, but work remains to harden the software to allow remote control and prevent hacking. INL has expertise in this area. A special engine for powering Arcturus drone aircraft is also envisioned. Such aircraft could be powered by hydrogen-fueled engines. Hydrogen fuel synthesizers can be coupled with these engines to allow the production of hydrogen from water and sunlight or wind to refill such vehicles. This concept could allow service over an extended range. For example, Alaska could be serviced with 12 refilling stations.
“Imagine the ability to call for critical supplies and have a vertical take-off drone deliver it to you in a remote part of the world,” Hollinger said. “INL has the test capability to access the full potential of these systems.”
HEC-TINA Vice President Vic Cordell has been leading this effort and will continue to oversee it, hoping to gain GSA certification for these products.