Quasiturbine> Type> Hydrogen


Consider the Quasiturbine burning hydrogen with its
stratification intake, low detonation sensitivity and oil free potential.
Consider also advanced detonation hydrogen combustion mode...

Quasiturbine Hydrogen Type

March 2003 - MIT study says

Improving gasoline and diesel engines is the way to go! Hydrogen car is no environmental panacea. The hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle will not be better in terms of total energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.  If we need to curb greenhouse gases, improving mainstream gasoline and diesel engines is the way to go. These results come from an assessment of a variety of engine and fuel technologies forecasting no real 'breakthroughs'.
(The Quasiturbine having been excluded from the study)

Hydrogen: Not Zero Pollution

Excludes NOx and H2S environmental concerns. Fossil fuel contains carbon and hydrogen. Carbon combustion produces CO2 which the photosynthesis fixes the carbon into the biomass, and return the O2 to the atmosphere. Hydrogen combustion fixes the O2 from the air into water, which oxygen is also liberated back in the atmosphere by photosynthesis. Since there is not enough photosynthesis to digest all the CO2, there is not enough either do process all this synthetic water. Massive hydrogen use has the net effect of removing oxygen from the atmosphere of our planet and fixing it into water. CO2 problem is not dissociable from Oxygen depletion. Hydrogen produced from water (avoiding electrolyses degradation of precious electricity) will do the same if the oxygen is not liberated to the atmosphere at the time of production, which is unlikely, considering that oxygen is precious for industrial process and will rather be fixed by other chemical process, unless we could not make use of all the massive quantity produced?

As a result, unless oxygen is made free to the atmosphere when produce, we can not say that transforming hydrogen into water vapor (including by combustion or fuel cells) is pollution free, when 2H does definitively removed 1 precious oxygen atom form the surface of our planet! (some calculation show this is not an issue, but?). Both CO2 and oxygen depletion are concerns. Synthetic fuel made out of CO2 from the air or other environment would be more neutral and acceptable - However, where will the energy to do that come from?

Hydrogen Sources

There is no molecular hydrogen on the planet Earth, we need to make it! Energy transformation from one source to another is costly in all terms. About 10% of the crude oil is consumed to refine gasoline, but up to 35% is consumed to make methanol. Transforming fossil fuel in electricity has not been done very efficiently in the past, even if new technologies are making substantial progress into the 60% efficiency range. Fossil fuel to hydrogen has similar lost. Why transforming fossil fuel-into-hydrogen with such a lost?

Water is the end result of hydrogen combustion. In term of energy, water is like burned hydrocarbon or ash. The energy content of water is so minimal that no other liquid is better to extinguish fire! Making hydrogen fuel from water is energetically the same as making gasoline back from the exhaust gases (CO2 and water). Transforming precious electricity from fossil fuel is a severe energy degradation which should not be permitted? (one would get more hydrogen by swapping its electricity on the world market).

Solar and bio-transformation may be part of the solution for moderate volume. The objective is generally to take the pollution (and the poor efficiency) away from the end users, but what is the net gain, and at what cost? Environmental human and planet issues about massive hydrogen production are still open and quite questionable.

Energy transformation is never a good idea. Producing hydrogen from fossil hydrocarbons means a lost of up to 30 % of initial energy. Then, to store the hydrogen gas is also expensive in energy of compression often lost during the relaxation. Following one decade exploratory on hydrogen, one will rediscover soon that the best way to store hydrogen is to bind it all around a carbon atom CH4, C3H6... to form (synthetic if coming from nuclear energy?) gases liquefiable or liquids that one call hydro- (for hydrogen) -carbon fuel. We will soon rediscover that we are already within an hydrogen economy, with effective and not so dangerous hydrocarbon fuel! Sure there is a place for hydrogen and fuel cells, but not intelligently everywhere... If we have energy available, lets make synthetic fuel instead of gaseous hydrogen!

Hydrogen or synthetic fuel, the Quasiturbine will not make much of a difference as it is an exceptional engine for both...

Hydrogen Storage in Carbon Molecules

A good way to store hydrogen is to link it with carbon atom. This can produce either gaseous, liquid or solid high energy density products most convenient for transportation and mobile uses. When needed, just heat up those carbon-hydrogen molecules, and the hydrogen will liberate. For energy production, the hydrogen storage in carbon molecules is forward and most efficient, because in presence of oxygen, not only the hydrogen separates and burn producing water vapor (a so low energy contained product, that it is used in fire extinguisher), but the carbon atoms will also burn, first in CO (which has about the specific thermal energy content
of the hydrogen), and which can further burn into CO2. (also a low energy contained product used in fire extinguisher). You win twice !

Other hydrogen storage techniques do not seem to be as practical. This hydrogen carbon molecule storage technique is safe and simple, and has been appreciated by humans for centuries, under the name of hydrocarbon fuels !

GM and BMW are taking different routes on the road :
- GM has invested heavily in developing fuel cells to power electric motors in vehicles,
replacing the current internal combustion engines.
- BMW, on the other hand, is studying burning hydrogen in internal combustion engines as a more practical alternative.

Internal combustion engine are combined hydrocarbon fuels "hydrogen extractor and mechanical converter" all at once ! ... and the Quasiturbine is most appropriate to do just that in vehicles

Environmental Concerns

Hydrogen and oxygen combustion gives water, only if no other chemical products are present. A problem with a conventional internal combustion (IC) engine running on hydrogen, is that NOx are produced from the air nitrogen (76%), and because they are very toxic pollutants, this causes significant emissions concerns, and present solution by cooling the combustion temperature by excess air mixture further lower the engine power and efficiency. The performing conventional internal combustion IC engines operated on hydrogen may not easily meet the future severe environmental emission standards without sophisticated exhaust treatment. Another concern is related to the internal combustion IC engine oil degradation in presence of hydrogen, and the eventual toxic residues safe elimination (not by the exhaust).


The Quasiturbine operating on hydrogen has favorable potential emissions characteristics to meet severe standards, because very little NOx are produced due to its shorter volume pulse, and because it has the potential to be an oil-free engine, while having optimum efficiency.

Liquid versus Gaseous Fuel

Ultimately, all fuels get into gaseous state in engine combustion chamber, so one may be at first legitimate to expect little difference with liquid fuel, but looking at the combustion process itself is not where the answer stands. One needs to look at the details of the specific engine intake and dynamic. Because engines generally prefer a near stochiometric mixture (except for non-homogeneous Diesel and homogeneous detonation, which both works in excess of air), the amount of fuel and air have to be balanced at intake. Lets consider the gasoline 4 strokes piston engine. When the intake valve opens, a fix volume is aspirated. Since the gasoline intaked as liquid droplets does occupy  a negligible volume, most air available can be intaken from the depressurized intake manifold. In this regard, the gasoline injectors near intake valves are superior to the carburetors in permitting more liquid droplets and less gasoline atomization (vapor), which explains why the modern gasoline injector engines have a higher specific power density.

Fortunately with the piston engine, when the intake valve closes, there is plenty of time for the gasoline droplet to atomize during compression and later even during the combustion stroke, because optimum pressure is not required until well pass the TDC (top dead centre). However, this droplets intake technique is not without adverse effect on pollution, but this slow imperfect combustion saves the engine valves from being torched out!

By opposition, intaking gaseous fuel which occupied a substantial volume, will leave less volume available for air intake, and the engine specific power density will be diminished. To make it short, it is not easy to produce the same combustion condition by intaking liquid or gaseous fuel, and those condition differences are further apparent in the front flame velocity (in addition to the specific chemistry characteristics...). Because of its continuous intake flow and its early and late intake characteristics, the Quasiturbine is most able to minimize the gaseous fuel intake penalty.

Detonation - A Must for Hydrogen

In order to do work on a piston, the fuel-air mixture needs to burn at a speed faster than the piston is moving. The following discussion exclude hydrogen detonation, which is much different from combustion. At stoichiometric ratio (no air nitrogen?), hydrogen (uncertain H2 and O2 mixture, with HHO ?) flame speed has been reported up to 3.46 m/s [11.35 feet/second] which would be nearly an order of magnitude slower than gasoline 40 m/s [from 70 up to 170 feet/second], and at lean mixture, the hydrogen flame velocity decreases significantly. However, engine experts are not working in stockiometric condition but report hydrogen-air mixture flame front speed and gasoline-air mixture flame front speed accordingly.

Stochiometric is an ideal situation which does not occure in IC. With gasoline, engine do not run exactly stochiometric mainly to preserve the exhaust valve from overheating, and to reduce NOx production. Quite the same with hydrogen in combustion engine. Difference in comparison is also with the mixture power density because hydrogen is a gas with a low power density. Per pound hydrogen is more powerful but at atmospheric density, hydrogen is less powerful compare to gasoline mixture. Matter may still be open to discussion, but lower hydrogen flame speed observed in IC engine condition is a disadvantage shared with most other gaseous fuels. This is why a detonation capable engine is so important to overcome these limitations. Source: Mark's Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers, Section 9, Internal Combustion Engines, Flame Speed, more at

An average vehicle engine rotating at 2,000 rpm (33 revolutions per second) produces piston linear speed of 45 feet/second in the middle-stroke, which is already 5 times faster than the hydrogen flame front speed ! The fact that a hydrogen-air mixture has a flame front speed of about 1/10  that of a gasoline-air mixture contributes to explain why hydrogen engines only run at reduced power and low rpm under load. However, the detonation mode is extremely rapid and totally removes this limitation to hydrogen. This is why the detonation mode (not compatible with piston, but with the Quasiturbine) is somewhat critical for the future of the hydrogen engine.

Where does the Quasiturbine detonation mode stands? Everyone has experienced that lens sun focalization can lit a fire. As the compression ratio of an engine increases, not only the gas temperature increases, but also the radiation level.
Combustion goes primarily through at least 3 processes while the compression increases:

  • Primo, at low compression ratio, a hot spot (spark) is required to start a combustion front flame wave. This subsonic wave propagates and lits progressively the mixture (this is smooth deflagration use in our gasoline vehicle).
  • Secundo, higher pressure will provoke thermo-ignition, which is a very non-uniform process liting mixture patches, and inter-patches combustion being driven +/- by the previous describe front flame wave.
  • Tertio, still higher compression ratio produces uniform radiation driven liting process, which is an extremely rapid volumetric combustion (supersonic). In this case, there is essentially no front propagation, just a powerful light radiation everywhere...

This last one is the most severe knocking that the piston cannot stand, but it is the most powerful and perfect way to combust fuel! In fact, additives used to increase the gasoline octane index are efficient photon absorbents molecules which prevent this kind of photons build-up, and such polluting additives are not needed in detonation mode engine. Even if shock waves do have the potential to lit a fuel mixture,
photo-detonation does not actually make use of a shock wave within the mixture.
However, the rapid chamber pressure increase does generate a shock wave in the engine environment, which could be substantially moderated by a rapid increase of the combustion volume at that TDC time (this is what the Quasiturbine does!).

So, why does the piston don't stand the photo-detonation ? Because it stands high compression near TDC (top dead center) much too long before producing useful work at mid-stroke. And why does the Quasiturbine stand it (particularly the QTAC model) ?
Because the volume pulse is 15 to 30 times shorter near TDC, and also because its higher surface to volume ratio is moderating the violence of the detonation process, which is almost independent of the mixture front-wave flame velocity... Consequently, even if the Quasiturbine can run in conventional Otto mode, its photo-detonation mode provides the most benefit to fuel efficiency and environment, both for liquid or gaseous fuel...

Fuel Cell

The Best Current present state hydrogen technologies: Fuel cells, operating on reformed natural gas, will have very low emissions, but despite some claims of very high efficiency, their efficiency is at most about 35% from raw fuel, and half of that in small portable electric motor units (efficiency falls when getting near maximum output power). Furthermore, they are not readily available for high power output plants yet nowadays, and they are far from matching the Combined Cycle Gas Turbine CCGT efficiency, which reaches about 55%. Cost and internal contamination are also limitations.

Finally, if breakthroughs are still expected with fuel cells, the detonation internal combustion is also an expected breakthrough with internal combustion engine
which could save half the fuel now consumed in gasoline vehicles with substantial environment benefits.

Quasiturbine and Hydrogen

Hydrogen is not easily usable in conventional internal combustion IC engine due to its high inflammability and lower atmospheric pressure specific energy (30 to 50 % power drop), and generally does require sophisticated and costly synchronized gas injectors. However, the IC efficiency is potentially competitive. Nevertheless, four problems subsist: Hydrogen hot combustion in presence of the nitrogen of air generates NOx; Hydrogen is a vicious gas for all material, including steel and lubricant; Hydrogen injector does not make uniform combustion; and storage density still to be worked out.

Quasiturbine characteristics and the environmental solution: The Quasiturbine pressure pulse is shorter and increases linearly (as opposed to tangentially at the TDC position like the sine wave of the conventional crankshaft). This means that detonation at the TDC is not followed by a long confinement time, responsible for so many broken pistons. Furthermore, because the pressure pulse is 15 to 30 times shorter at the top dead center, detonation invariably occurs there and the Quasiturbine is not synchronization sensitive, and because compression occurs late after the intake is done, it does not easily backfire. The Quasiturbine geometry allows for separate intake of air and hydrogen (stratification), low detonation sensitivity and oil free potential are other favorable hydrogen characteristics.

The fuel cell chemistry will not permit 
to make very high density power plant in weight and volume
as shown on this RAGON engine diagram,
like it is easily done with internal combustion (IC) engine.
For many applications from chainsaws or motorcycles, to propeller airplanes,
hydrogen and multi-fuel internal combustion engine will then be most suitable anyway.

The piston chamber gets hot during the combustion and exhaust, and does not quietly intake hydrogen mixture at intake time. Furthermore, the piston geometry does not permit good intake stratification where air and hydrogen can be intaken separately. Rotary engine presents a less severe situation in this regard, because the combustion occurs to the area opposite to the intake, and intake can be well stratified by using two distinct intake ports, one on each rotor side. The fact that the Quasiturbine is not sensitive to detonation and can stand it, makes it very attractive for hydrogen operation because hydrogen is the ideal detonation fuel!

In the piston engine, oil is required for lubrication but also as internal coolant, which is giving little incentive for oil-free piston engine. In fact, oil is not required for the interface of the ring and the piston cylinder, but essential because of non co-linearity of the piston and the connecting rod, which generates an ovalization force on the piston against the cylinder which must be well lubricated. The Quasiturbine does not present such unfortunate parallax effect and furthermore, the Quasiturbine has no oil-pan and its rotor is also an external part, so that the rotor and the stator are cooled by air flow, and not by internal oil spray. Consequently, the Quasiturbine has the potential to be a true oil-free engine, which is also expected to reduce the viscosity friction and increase further its efficiency. Finally, piston rings are known to brake easily under hydrogen atmosphere due to the fact that the external perimeter of the ring is in tension (not compression) while in presence of hydrogen, which favors its fragilisation and breakdown. None of the Quasiturbine seals is in tension, which means a longer seals lifetime. 

Quasiturbine Hydrogen Markets

The Quasiturbine has the quality to best fit the direct hydrogen combustion engine. However, the Quasiturbine can have other roles as well in an hydrogen economy:

Fuel cells: 
Some Quasiturbine commercial markets are the same as the market targeted by fuel cells. Fuel cells operating on reformed natural gas, will have very low emissions. Demonstration that an internal combustion IC Hydrogen Quasiturbine Engine also has low emissions characteristics would provide a low price alternative to fuel cells. Quasiturbine Pneumatic and Fuel cell : A perfect Match (using liquid nitrogen) is also quite an interesting application.

High power density applications: 
Generally speaking, the commercial market of natural gas Quasiturbine is not the same as the market targeted by fuel cells, neither will the high power Quasiturbines. On the RAGON diagram, the Quasiturbine is the highest density power plant by weight and volume. Fuel cell chemistry forbids such a specific high power density (which is very appreciated in the transportation industry).

Hybrid vehicle:
Hydrogen Quasiturbine generator could be practically adapted to hybrid electric vehicle. But if such a hydrogen-powered, hybrid electric vehicle could be engineered, it might well approach the 80 mpg (gasoline equivalent). For small units, a Quasiturbine Stirling engine could replace advantageously the second stage for thermal recovery.

Distributed power generation:
Another market for hydrogen Quasiturbine is distributed power generation and uninterruptible power supplies. It would have fuel efficiency advantages similar to gas turbine but would be compact enough to be easily located on-site. It could be a cost-effective option in this market. Because of the multi-fuel capability, the Quasiturbine seems like an ideal power generator for these applications with hydrogen, keeping open the multi-fuel option of natural gas, syngas, hythane, etc.

The Quasiturbine has an optimum efficiency in a wide range of power output, which makes it unique for power modulated cogeneration projects. 

State of the Quasiturbine hydrogen engine:
No Quasiturbine has yet run under hydrogen fuel. A new generation of Quasiturbine engine prototypes will be custom made in due time for this purpose.

More Technical...

March 2003 - MIT Engine Recommendation Study

Fuel cells and pneumatic Quasiturbine: A perfect match!

Quasiturbine for vehicles

Hydrogen Energy Center (HEC) http://www.h2eco.org
Canadian Hydrogen Association (CHA) http://www.h2.ca
US National Hydrogen Association (NHA) http://www.hydrogenus.com
International Association for Hydrogen Energy (IAHE) http://www.iahe.org