Monday, March 4, 2024

KH-7 Epsilon’s 2024 hydrogen truck introduces HVO

KH-7 Epsilon Team has tweaked their fuel source on their 2024 Dakar Rally Mission 1000 challenger, switching from an even split of hydrogen and diesel to a hybrid powered by hydrogen and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO).

The team’s hydrogen project began in 2022 with a MAN TGA 26.480 6×6 that used a blend of HVO and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). For 2023, the truck switched to hydrogen and diesel from EVARM. Hydrogen has become an increasingly popular alternative to standard fuel and even electric power, with every car entered in the Mission 1000—the Japanese HySE-X1 and Rainbow Truck Team‘s Volkswagen Amarok—also running on hydrogen.

“Two years ago, we set ourselves a challenge: the use of alternative fuels,” said driver Jordi Juvanteny. “In 2022, we used LPG as the truck’s fuel. Last year, we took a new step by using hydrogen. Hydrogen has a significant advantage over other fuels: emissions are reduced to water vapour. Although in the automotive field, fuel cell technology (a ‘cold’ combustion of hydrogen that produces electricity) is more commonly used, it also serves to directly power traditional thermal engines. We have opted for this latter technology, which various manufacturers are already testing.”

EVARM, a Spanish energy company, will provide the hydrogen/HVO hybrid fuel system. As its name suggests, HVO is created using recycled vegetable oil and other organic waste like animal fats via a process called hydrocracking. Company industrial engineer director Xavi Ribas will serve as the co-driver on the truck.

The fuel is then funneled into the 800-horsepower, six-cylinder turbodiesel engine. Two high-pressure hydrogen tanks are located in the rear along with the HVO tank.

KH-7 hopes the truck will be able to reduce its emissions by ninety percent. The 2023 truck cut carbon dioxide emissions by forty to fifty percent.

“The transformation of the engine involves the incorporation and adaptation of electronic, hydraulic, and management systems, to use hydrogen safely and without losing performance,” explained Ribas. “After last year’s experience, we have an updated version of the electronics to improve injection and thus use less liquid fuel. This is my first Dakar as a participant, but last year I was already assisting the team and I am very excited about this challenge.”

The team was barred from racing in the traditional T5 (now simply Truck) category at the 2023 Dakar Rally due to their fuel source being different from their diesel-powered counterparts. Relegated to their own class called “Challenge New Energy”, the truck retired after rolling, ending a race that navigator José Luis Criado called “like climbing Everest barefoot.”

The 2024 Dakar Rally begins on 5 January.