Running a Ford Ranger on Rocket Fuel

Hydrogen. It got us to the moon (along with a fancy form of Kerosene). It has the highest specific impulse of any fuel and with no carbon component you would think it would be a great fuel for surface transportation vehicles.

SCAQMD  paid us to find out. What we found was that hydrogen is great if you're going to the moon. If you're going to the grocery store use gasoline, diesel, an electric-hybrid, or ride your bike.

Resolving the technical issues of running an internal combustion engine on hydrogen is the easy part. Sure it will run and run well. But it can't run anywhere near stoichiometric. To get the flame speed in the combustion chamber to at or near that of gasoline or natural gas the A/F ratio must be increased to about 33 to 1. Unfortunately, doing that will give the engine about one half the horsepower it would have with gasoline. This reduction in power to weight ratio kills both performance and fuel economy.


Storing it is a problem and the least expensive way to get hydrogen is to steam-reform natural gas. Why not just use natural gas? The C from the CH4 will get into the environment either way.

 h2 tanks

And even though it has no carbon, the heat of combustion still produces NOx (an ozone precursor - see the SCOS97 project above).

Hydrogen. It's not an alternative.