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AVL RACETECH Builds Hydrogen Combustion Engine for Motorsport

avl racetech hydrogen combustion engine
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AVL RACETECH builds hydrogen combustion engine for motorsport.

AVL RACETECH, the motorsport department of AVL, presents the prototype of an innovative H2 internal combustion engine. The power unit is a compact, hydrogen-powered 2-liter turbo engine, with intelligent water injection that enables it to achieve a totally new performance level. The prototype is the first racing engine that AVL RACETECH is developing and building in-house.

Graz, Austria, November 2022: Combining hydrogen and motorsport is familiar ground for AVL: Back in 2013, the company helped Graz University of Technology convert an Aston Martin Rapide S to a bivalent H2/gasoline internal combustion engine for the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. With the newly presented propulsion system powered by hydrogen alone, which makes it zero carbon, AVL is starting a new chapter.

Unlike other H2 internal combustion engines, which are usually operated with a high level of excess air (lean-burn), meaning that they generate comparatively less performance, AVL RACETECH’s new racing engine with only slight lean-burn can generate a performance level of around 150 kW per liter. This puts the hydrogen-powered 2-liter turbo engine in the same range as the close-to-production customer racing classes of today.

To achieve this high specific performance, AVL RACETECH transferred the principle of water injection to the hydrogen engine. An injector shoots additional water into the intake air of the engine, which increases the boost pressure.

In addition, the evaporating liquid has a strong cooling effect in the combustion chamber. Designing the necessary injectors and valves requires precise knowledge of the overall system behavior with all air, fuel, and exhaust gas flows – for which AVL uses its tried and tested simulation models and 3D flow calculations.

This also ensures that the mechanical limits of the engine are not exceeded and the high safety standards in motorsport are met.

Paul Kapus, Project Manager Manager Development Spark Ignited Engines & Concept Cars:

Realizing performance values at motorsport level with a hydrogen internal combustion engine is an incredibly complex technical challenge.

“But our prototype proves it can be done. The basic technology of a gasoline engine and a hydrogen combustion engine is very similar – in contrast with fuel cell technology. Which is why our concept is also a very good fit for the economical approach of customer racing, since the adaptations required are very straightforward.”

Ellen Lohr, Director Motorsport AVL:

We are forerunners in many aspects of motorsport with AVL RACETECH and have now made the decision to become leaders in the area of hydrogen combustion engines as well.

“Which is why we are building our own racing engine for the first time in the more than 20-year history of the AVL motorsport department. We expect to be able to present this hydrogen engine in spring 2023 and are confident that hydrogen combustion technology will play a significant role in achieving a zero carbon future in motorsport.”


AVL RACETECH, formerly known as AVL RACING, is the specialist global motorsport division of AVL and has been actively involved in all technical areas of the sport for over 20 years. AVL RACETECH works with customers in more than 17 racing series around the world, in the fields of engineering, testing, simulation and manufacturing.

We are a key supplier for teams in the most respected racing series around the world, from Formula 1 and NASCAR to MotoGP, and provide state-of-the-art technology and services to the motorsport world.

We believe in motorsport and use it as a platform for innovation. We transfer this know-how into road car development for future generations of mobility. Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

About AVL

With more than 10,700 employees, AVL is one of the world’s leading mobility technology companies for development, simulation and testing in the automotive industry, and beyond. Drawing on its pioneering spirit, the company provides concepts, solutions and methodologies for a greener, safer and better world of mobility.

From ideation phase to serial production, the company covers vehicle architectures and platform solutions including the impact of new propulsion systems and energy carriers. As a global technology provider, AVL’s offerings range from simulation, virtualization and test automation for product development to ADAS/AD and vehicle software.

The company combines state-of-the-art and highly scalable IT, software and technology solutions with its application know-how, thereby offering customers extensive tools in areas such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity or Embedded Systems.

AVL’s passion is innovation. Together with an international network of experts at more than 90 locations and with 45 Tech and Engineering Centers worldwide, AVL is supporting customers in their mobility ambitions. In 2021, the company generated a turnover of 1.6 billion Euros, of which 12 % are invested in R&D activities to ensure continuous innovation.

READ the latest news shaping the hydrogen market at Hydrogen Central

Press Release: AVL RACETECH Builds Hydrogen Combustion Engine for Motorsport, November 23, 2022

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1 comment

  • Where is all the electric going to come from to create the hydrogen? Or is it just going to come from gas? Ie dirty hydrogen.
    Also in comparison to a fuel cell they are very inefficient and in comparison to an EV they are a disaster

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