Stringent emission regulations pose challenges for car manufacturers in sustaining the production of vehicles powered purely by gasoline or diesel fuels. In some countries and regions, steps are being taken to ban the vehicles altogether.
An alternative that's gaining popularity in the commercial transport industry is the use of hydrogen fuel cells to power electric motors, but hydrogen might also emerge as a savior of the internal-combustion engine, as no carbon emissions are produced.
A number of companies are developing internal-combustion engines that burn hydrogen, including Bosch. The automotive supplier used the 2024 CES currently underway in Las Vegas to announce plans to debut a hydrogen engine later this year. Its announcement follows similar announcements from the likes of Alpine, Porsche, and Toyota.
Bosch, which recently started manufacturing hydrogen fuel cells at scale for use in heavy vehicles, said it sees hydrogen as playing a central role in the transition to sustainable energy sources.
There are drawbacks, though. Besides the lack of a steady supply of hydrogen as an available fuel source, such an engine emits harmful nitrogen oxides. However, there are ways to minimize this, like using urea-based selective catalytic reduction found in diesel engines. Hydrogen can also be produced without emissions, by using renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, something that Porsche is also examining in the area of synthetic fuels.
To tackle the supply issue, countries and industries are investing in hydrogen technologies. In the U.S., the government has committed around $7 billion for the creation of so-called hydrogen hubs that are an important building block for establishing a wider hydrogen infrastructure. These hubs are essentially areas of networked producers of hydrogen.
Concurrent with its hydrogen developments, Bosch is also focused on new technologies for electric vehicles. One of these, an EV-related vehicle health check system, was also announced at CES. The system is designed to analyze battery data and determine the battery’s condition, and according to Bosch it has the potential to extend a battery's life by up to 20%.