The 6.6 liter V8 monster is known in the USA as a hard worker. From 2024, the compression-ignition engine should also be able to be powered by hydrogen.
Diesel engines traditionally only play a minor role in the USA. There is only one segment in which customers like to use compression-ignition engines: diesel engines are popular with heavy-duty pickups because they promise high payloads and trailer loads with comparatively low fuel consumption thanks to their enormous torque at low engine speeds. Added to this is the legendary robustness of the high-capacity units. Chevrolet, for example, equips its thick 2500HD and 3500HD flatbed trucks with a 6.6-liter V8 diesel engine that delivers a full 451 hp and a maximum of 1,220 Newton meters - if it is supplied with enough diesel fuel.
Cooperation with General Motors
Possibly the displacement and torque monster can also be fed with hydrogen in the future. The company Punch Hydrocells, a subsidiary of the development service provider Punch Group with headquarters in Belgium, has announced that it intends to convert exactly this engine to run on the alternative fuel. "The hydrogen internal combustion engine offers a solution for a zero-emission carbon footprint and has advantages in terms of weight and refueling time compared to battery-powered drives," it said in a statement.
It comes as no surprise that Punch Hydrocells chose an engine from the General Motors shelf, after all there have been connections to the US group for some time. In 2020, the Italian arm of Punch Group, which owns the Hydrocell division, took over a former GM development complex in Turin. The deal came with the rights to build and distribute the diesel engine described in all markets outside of the United States. Punch boss Guido Dumarey has already told the specialist magazine "Automotive News Europe" that he does not want to produce any engines that run on fossil fuels in Turin.
Ready for series production in 2024
In a first step, the converted Duramax V8 will not be used in cars, but in boats; a corresponding partnership with the Castagnola yacht shipyard already exists. By 2024, the Punch Group wants the engine to be ready to be used in cars. Then, according to Dumarey, it should also be offered worldwide - also in the USA. However, the 6.6-liter engine should only be at the top of a whole range of engines whose performance values start at 109 hp. However, the drives are not suitable for passenger cars due to the large tanks required. Dumarey thinks more of transporters like the Ford Transit - or pick-up trucks.
Hydrogen engines are currently a hot topic in the auto industry. Toyota conducts research in this area just as intensively as large suppliers à la Bosch , Deutz or Aquarius Engines . Now the Punch Group is also entering the race. It will be interesting to see whether the technology can develop into serious competition for combustion, hybrid and purely electric drives in the foreseeable future.