Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Clean Transport

Renault Driving On Hydrogen ICE With New Concept Car

Renault knows how to amaze its public. It is famous for the most original and creative concept cars. Now Renault is looking at a hydrogen ICE (internal combustion engine) for a new concept car. This has to be on the top of the list of most original surprises.

I will explain why this is a surprise. The hydrogen option for cars is not very popular because of the low efficiency of hydrogen fuel cell powertrains. From wind turbines or solar panels to the wheels, you get about 22% energy efficiency with a hydrogen fuel cell as used in the Toyota Mirai. In a battery electric vehicle, this is 72%. It’s a bit more for a Tesla, a bit less for my Renault Zoe. This low efficiency is, beside the costs of the hydrogen charging infrastructure, a main reason that hydrogen is not seen as a serious alternative to battery electric powertrains by most observers.

Showing well-to-wheel efficincy from RE. BEV 73% Hydrogen FC 22% e-fuels 13%

Transport & Environment comparison of powertrain efficiency with renewable energy as primary source.

The fuel cell is a new piece of technology that is still in its infancy, and the electric motor that is needed is not really comfortable for carmakers. It is also possible to forego the fuel cell and electric motor powertrain. Hydrogen was used as fuel in engines as long as two centuries ago. That was even before gasoline conquered the transportation world.

Note: Heavy sarcasm follows.

So, Renault created such a concept. The carmaker eliminated the fuel cell that uses 50% of hydrogen’s energy to make electricity. Instead, it burns the hydrogen directly in a normal internal combustion engine. Now the carmaker is back with old tried and trusted technology. The efficiency of the ICE is the same 25% as with burning fossil fuels. This way the well-to-wheel metric reaches a whopping 13% — the same efficiency as for driving on e-fuels produced from wind and solar.

But e-fuels are a lot less sexy than hydrogen. E-fuels are safer and easier to handle. The transport and burning in the engine is the same as gasoline, but the marketing potential is nil, nada, nothing — maybe even negative. And half the world is waiting for hydrogen in cars. They know it is the next big thing after gasoline and diesel. That you need five times the number of wind-turbines or solar panels to drive the same distance with this new (old) technology is a small price for not needing a big battery.

This new hydrogen ICE concept car is nearly as clean as driving on sunshine in a BEV — the hydrogen turns into H2O, no CO2 is produced. The hydrogen is burned at high temperatures, causing just a small problem. It produces the same greenhouse gas NOx as fossil fuel cars, but this is difficult to explain to the public, so it does not count.

There is a risk that this ICE will be blocked from entering urban areas, just like its fossil fuel burning cousins, because of the NOx production. But that would be so unfair — this is the new savior hydrogen that the car industry has been waiting for so long!

Check out our brand new E-Bike Guide. If you're curious about electric bikes, this is the best place to start your e-mobility journey!
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

Grumpy old man. The best thing I did with my life was raising two kids. Only finished primary education, but when you don’t go to school, you have lots of time to read. I switched from accounting to software development and ended my career as system integrator and architect. My 2007 boss got two electric Lotus Elise cars to show policymakers the future direction of energy and transportation. And I have been looking to replace my diesel cars with electric vehicles ever since. At the end of 2019 I succeeded, I replaced my Twingo diesel for a Zoe fully electric. And putting my money where my mouth is, I have bought Tesla shares. Intend to keep them until I can trade them for a Tesla car. I added some Fastned, because driving without charging is no fun.


You May Also Like

Green Economy

Green steel is on everyone's lips these days as companies scramble to find new ways to make it with less carbon emissions.


What do you get when you cross a Tesla Model S Plaid with a minivan?

Clean Power

The rich wind resources of Ireland are fostering a green hydrogen boom, with green ammonia for good measure.

Clean Power

Ukraine makes the case for joining the EU with green hydrogen and a plan for overcoming transmission bottlenecks.

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.