Computational comparison of the conventional diesel and hydrogen direct-injection compression-ignition combustion engines
Journal article, 2022

Most research and development on hydrogen (H2) internal combustion engines focus on premixed-charge spark ignition (SI) or diesel-hydrogen dual-fuel technologies. Premixed charge limits the engine efficiency, power density, and safety, while diesel injections give rise to CO2 and particulate emissions. This paper demonstrates a non-premixed compression-ignition (CI) neat H2 engine concept that uses H2 pilots for ignition. It compares the CI H2 engine to an equivalent diesel engine to draw fundamental insights about the mixing and combustion processes. The Converge computational fluid dynamics solver is used for all simulations. The results show that the brake thermal efficiency of the CI H2 engine is comparable or higher than diesel, and the molar expansion with H2 injections at TDC constitutes 5–10 % of the total useful work. Fuel-air mixing in the free-jet phase of combustion is substantially higher with H2 due to hydrogen's gaseous state, low density, high injection velocity, and transient vortices, which contribute to the 3 times higher air entrainment into the quasi-steady-state jet regions. However, the H2 jet momentum is up to 4 times lower than for diesel, which leads to not only ineffective momentum-driven global mixing but also reduced heat transfer losses with H2. The short H2 flame quenching distance may also be inconsequential for heat transfer in CI engines. Finally, this research enables future improvements in CI H2 engine efficiency by hypothesizing a new optimization path, which maximizes the free-jet phase of combustion, hence is totally different from that for conventional diesel engines.

Diesel combustion

Hydrogen combustion

Hydrogen engine


Direct injection

Compression ignition


Rafig Babayev

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Combustion and Propulsion Systems, Engines and Propulsion Systems

Arne Andersson

Volvo Group

Albert Serra Dalmau

Volvo Group

Hong G. Im

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

Bengt Johansson

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Combustion and Propulsion Systems, Engines and Propulsion Systems


0016-2361 (ISSN)

Vol. 307 121909

Subject Categories

Other Mechanical Engineering

Energy Engineering

Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics



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