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Korea Develops World-Class Hydrogen Engine Technology for Passenger Vehicles

20 Sept 2023

In a significant leap towards carbon neutrality and the era of hydrogen mobility, Korean researchers have achieved a remarkable milestone by developing cutting-edge hydrogen engine technology that can run on 100% hydrogen fuel. This groundbreaking achievement marks the first-of-its-kind in Korea and promises to revolutionize the automotive industry's approach to sustainable transportation.

Revolutionary Hydrogen Engine Technology

A collaborative effort between the Mobility Power Research Lab at the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) and Hyundai-Kia Motors' Decarbonization Engine Research Lab, the research team, led by Senior Researcher Choi Young and researcher Baek Hong-gil, has created a 'direct injection hydrogen engine.' Unlike previous 'port injection' hydrogen engines that faced efficiency challenges due to reduced air inflow and occasional backfire, this innovative engine offers a solution to these limitations.

The direct injection hydrogen engine overcomes backfire issues by injecting high-pressure hydrogen fuel directly into the combustion chamber. It maximizes thermal efficiency and output performance through a high compression ratio, fuel stratification, and ultra-lean combustion. Simultaneously, it significantly reduces harmful emissions.

Environmental Impact and Efficiency

This hydrogen engine technology is a game-changer in environmental sustainability. It reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by a staggering 99% compared to gasoline engines and curtails fine dust emissions by 90%. Furthermore, it achieves compliance with European standards for zero-emission vehicles and emits less than 15 ppm of nitrogen oxides (NOx). Achieving a high thermal efficiency of up to 40% without requiring additional exhaust gas purification devices sets this technology apart.

Future Prospects and Collaboration

Choi Young, the head of Mobility Power Research at KIMM, emphasized the profound significance of this development as an immediate and cost-effective technology to replace fossil fuels with carbon-free hydrogen fuel in automobiles. The collaboration with Hyundai Motors aims to extend the application of this technology beyond passenger vehicles to commercial vehicles and power generation equipment. Their shared vision is to lead the way in achieving carbon neutrality through continuous research and development of carbon-free fuel power technology.


Korea's pioneering achievement in developing a world-class hydrogen engine that operates on 100% hydrogen fuel for passenger vehicles is a major step forward in the quest for sustainable and eco-friendly transportation. As the global automotive industry shifts towards hydrogen mobility and carbon neutrality, this breakthrough technology sets a new standard for cleaner, greener, and more efficient vehicles.

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