Ferrari interested in burning hydrogen

According to the specialized website H2mobile, the Italian sports car manufacturer Ferrari seems interested in using a hybrid hydrogen-burning internal combustion engine (HICE) in its sports cars. Ferrari has apparently filed a patent to protect this idea.

A number of manufacturers are still investigating the possibility of using hydrogen as a cleaner fuel for internal combustion engines. There is Toyota in its racing Corolla, Hyundai in its N74, and the Mission H24 project, where both Fuel Cell and HICE are tested on the circuit.

Earlier on, BMW, which is still developing and testing a fuel cell X5, had a limited-series V12 7-Series with an engine converted to burning hydrogen. Mazda once had a prototype RX8 that burned hydrogen instead of petrol in its rotary engine.

Until now, start-ups like Hopium and Hyperion were concerned with the technology of hydrogen being used as fuel in hypercars. Now, Ferrari has entered the debate. Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigma thinks “there is still a lot to do with the internal combustion engine.” Hence, the interest in developing an ICE that burns a CO2 neutral fuel like hydrogen.


Ferrari’s recently patented design concerns a six-in-line engine that burns hydrogen. Although it’s not a V-engine like we’re used to from Ferrari, it’s a very innovative proposal. In fact, the engine sits upside down in the car, with the cylinder head down below and the crankshaft on top of it.

The aim is to regroup the admission system and the hydrogen reservoirs and have a drivetrain that is as compact as possible. Another reason could be that a reversed engine has a cooler cylinder head (because the explosion takes place above and not under it) so that the number of misfires diminishes or disappears.

From our own experience driving the aforementioned BMW V12 7 Series on hydrogen, we remember a cacophony of misfires. The very volatile hydrogen was already exploding in the inlet conductors because of the heat on top of the engine.


The engine will also be supercharged, and Ferrari will use its long-time experience with Formula 1 supercharged engines. There will be two compressors and two turbines driven by one electric motor on top of the engine, while the turbines are situated under the engine block.

The patent foresees a second possibility with separate drives for each compressor, but then these would have to be linked mechanically to the engine in the absence of turbines or an electric motor. The patent mentions that this solution is lighter and more compact but slightly less efficient.

The proposal and patenting of different solutions prove that Ferrari hasn’t made all technological choices yet but that it is really interested in developing an HICE. Apparently, the people in Modena are still struggling with the fact that one of the key factors for buying their vehicles is the noise that they make and that diehards will never accept purely electric Ferraris, even when they’re equipped with an artificial soundscape.

The first page of the patent application /Espacenet




Ready to join the conversation?

You must be an active subscriber to leave a comment.

Subscribe Today

You Might Also Like