|MadSci Network: Engineering|
I'm not quite sure what you're asking, so I'll try answering a couple of different interpretations. First, can you convert a hydrogen car to run on propane? This depends on the type of hydrogen car. Nowadays, most discussion of a "hydrogen cars" is focused on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. A fuel cell doesn't use hydrogen for internal combustion. A fuel cell is more like a battery than an engine. So in this case, the answer would be no. You couldn't use propane instead. If you are talking about a hydrogen internal combustion engine, then the answer would be maybe; however, a kit made to convert a gasoline engine to propane probably wouldn't be appropriate. It is unlikely to require a lot of changes to convert a hydrogen engine to run on propane, but the changes would be different than those required to change over a gasoline engine. For example, it's already set up to run on a compressed gaseous fuel so those parts of the conversion would be unnecessary. But you would need a way to change between two different gaseous fuels. And the two gases (hydrogen and propane) have much different stoichiometric air/fuel ratios, so the change over would not be transparent to the control system (whether it be carburetion, port injection, or direct injection). There has been some work on engines designed to run on both hydrogen and natural gas and even mixes of the two. But there is some special hardware required. Finally, can you use a propane conversion kit to convert an engine to run on hydrogen? Not likely. Running on hydrogen has some special requirements over running on gasoline or propane. There are some engine hardware upgrades required to run on hydrogen. For example, hydrogen is very susceptible to pre-ignition so special care is necessary to avoid backfires and such. Hydrogen is also much tougher on injectors than carbon fuels because it's much drier (it doesn't carry as many lubricants) and leads to faster wear on the injectors. Well, I hope that answers your question (whichever question it was that you were asking!). If it didn't, feel free to write back and clarify what you were looking for. Your Mad Scientist, Mike Scannell
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