The Dearborn-based automaker already indicated earlier this month its intention to separate its electric (Ford Model e) and combustion engine (Ford Blue) entities. Unsurprisingly, the electric efforts will be upgraded seasonally, but don’t count the gasoline-powered vehicles as less popular options.
While it’s clear that the internal combustion engine is set to disappear, it’s not dead yet, at least not if you believe this patent filed by Ford with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the document that was uncovered by the U.S. site Muscle Cars and Trucks. Indeed, the publication unearthed this patent that illustrates a hydrogen-powered thermal engine, a solution that differs from the one currently used in the few models powered by fuel cells.
A sedan like the Toyota Mirai uses hydrogen to power the electric motor, while Ford’s proposed model uses hydrogen as fuel to power an internal combustion engine.
The explanation of this system is a bit complex, but to keep it simple, let’s say that this special engine would be able to run on a band of lambda measurements of air/fuel ratio. The engine in question would have a lambda value above 2.00, while a conventional engine has lambda values between 0.54 and 1.25.
To achieve this, the manufacturer would have planned to use direct injection to get the hydrogen into the cylinders. The patent also shows a hybrid configuration, which comes with a motor-generator installed between the gearbox and the combustion engine.
It will be interesting to see if Ford can refine this patent in the coming years, a method of combustion that could potentially save one or more internal combustion engines. In principle, a Ford Mustang V8 could use this technology to keep the legendary 5.0-liter block under its hood. However, to succeed, such a project must be able to count on a hydrogen supply network, which would not be so simple at the moment.