Cummins launches 15-liter hydrogen engine – Fuel Smarts

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Cummins showcased zero-emission vehicles and technology at ACT Expo.

Photo: Cummins


Cummins unveiled a 15L hydrogen engine at ACT Expo in Long Beach, California on May 9. Built on Cummins’ new fuel-independent platform announced earlier this year, it is expected to enter full production in 2027. Cummins also plans to launch a 6.7L hydrogen engine.

It was part of an exhibit demonstrating Cummins’ Destination Zero strategy for major on-road markets, which aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

In addition to the new X15H, Cummins introduced its X15N natural gas engine which it announced last fall, the new B6.7 propane engine, Cummins Clean Fuel Technologies Fuel Systems, its fuel cell electric demo truck , a terminal tractor featuring the PowerDrive 8000 Battery Electric System, and a Blue Bird battery electric school bus powered by Cummins.

Cummins hydrogen engines

The X15H is built on a new fuel-independent engine platform, where below the head gasket each fuel type’s engine has largely similar components, and above the head gasket each has different components for different types of fuel.


The hydrogen-fuel X15H is built on a fuel-independent engine platform, where below the head gasket each fuel type's engine has broadly similar components, and above the head gasket each has different components for different types of fuel.  - Photo: Cummins

The hydrogen-fuel X15H is built on a fuel-independent engine platform, where below the head gasket each fuel type’s engine has broadly similar components, and above the head gasket each has different components for different types of fuel.

Photo: Cummins


Cummins announced testing of the hydrogen internal combustion technology in July 2021. At ACT Expo, officials said the company has achieved impressive early results, already hitting production horsepower and torque targets (more of 810 lb-ft of torque and 290 hp from the medium-duty engine). Additional testing on more advanced prototypes will begin soon.

The engine will be a carbon-free solution for several markets. Cummins intends to produce hydrogen internal combustion engines in the 15L and 6.7L displacements, believing that these engines will help the industry reduce GHG emissions this decade.

“Our customers are responding positively to this convenient technology,” said Jim Nebergall, general manager, hydrogen engines. “These motors look like motors, they sound like motors and fit where motors normally fit.”

Cummins said the key was pairing the engine with clean, carbon-free hydrogen fuel.

“Reducing carbon emissions from well to wheels requires innovation in power sources and power solutions,” said Srikanth Padmanabhan, president of Cummins’ engine business. “While the use cases for battery and fuel cell electric powertrains are promising, the combination of green hydrogen in proven internal combustion engine technology provides an important complement to future zero-emissions solutions.”

Hydrogen internal combustion engines can use carbon-free fuel at a lower initial price than a fuel cell or battery-electric vehicle with little modification from today’s vehicles, Cummins said.

Hydrogen fuel cell trucks on the way

However, that doesn’t mean Cummins is slowing down its development of hydrogen fuel cells. Cummins and Daimler Truck North America have announced that they are collaborating to equip and validate Freightliner Cascadia trucks with a Cummins hydrogen fuel cell powertrain for use in North America.

A Cummins demonstration truck at ACT Expo featured a fuel cell and battery power system. The truck was designed with professional applications in mind, such as regional transport, urban delivery, port drayage and container handling in terminals.


Cummins' demo truck includes seven hydrogen tanks and seven high-voltage batteries.  - Photo: Cummins

Cummins’ demo truck includes seven hydrogen tanks and seven high-voltage batteries.

Photo: Cummins


The demo truck uses a fuel cell electric powertrain that replaces a conventional internal combustion engine. The electric motor is powered by high voltage batteries and fuel cell motors. While driving the vehicle, the system operates dual Cummins HD90 fuel cell engines to dynamically manage the charging of the high voltage batteries based on the power load requirements of vehicle operation. The energy storage comprises seven hydrogen tanks with a total of 32 kg of hydrogen compressed to 350 bar, and it is equipped with seven high-voltage batteries, each with a capacity of 53.4 kWh offering a range of about 200 miles.

Do not count natural gas

In the shorter term, the natural gas version of the 15L, the X15N, can help customers achieve net zero GHG emissions when paired with renewable natural gas and reduce NOx emissions, according to Cummins. This engine offers reduced size and weight compared to diesel, and nearly identical power and torque curves to diesel, according to the company.

“To date, Cummins has produced more than 24,000 renewable natural gas engines, which provide immediate and negative carbon benefits to the environment,” said Tom Swenson, head of global regulatory affairs at Cummins, during a press conference. “Cummins has generated considerable interest in the 15-litre platform as a renewable fuels engine option.”

The Cummins X15N will offer outputs up to 500 hp and 1,850 lb-ft. of torque and will have a similar physical footprint to its existing 12L natural gas engine, but it weighs less than the existing 12L natural gas engine and about 500 pounds less than a comparable diesel engine. Cummins is actively working with major OEMs to integrate the engine. This engine is already performing well in global markets, Cummins said, and will enter production in the United States in 2024.

The range of a truck equipped with a Cummins X15N natural gas engine will only be limited by driver hours of service restrictions, as typical tank sets on natural gas trucks allow for at least 750 miles of driving between pit stops, which can be accomplished in about 15 minutes.


Cummins' natural gas version of the X15 is based on an engine already used in other parts of the world.  - Photo: Cummins

Cummins’ natural gas version of the X15 is based on an engine already used in other parts of the world.

Photo: Cummins


Also at ACT Expo

B6.7 Propane: According to Cummins, this engine is the first medium-duty turbocharged spark-ignition platform specifically designed for propane fuels. Built on the Cummins B-Series platform, the B6.7 Propane is designed to deliver diesel-like durability and performance and lower total cost of operation than currently available propane engines, the company said. The B6.7 Propane engine is targeting ultra-low NOx certification at launch, meeting EPA and CARB emissions regulations for 2024 and 2027. Kenworth and Peterbilt have already announced engine availability in middle-duty models .

Cummins Clean Fuel Technologies fuel systems: These natural gas fuel system configurations fit multiple body OEMs and include rear-of-cab, front-of-body, side, roof, and tailgate mounting systems . Truck applications include garbage, road transport, construction, ports, beverage delivery and more.

Port tractor fitted with the PowerDrive 8000: This battery-electric system is designed to power terminal tractor applications in the port, intermodal and distribution markets. Components include a single direct-drive traction motor, system control module thermal management system, and BP30E batteries. The batteries have also been designed to meet the needs of terminal tractor duty cycles, including helping operators get through their 10-12 hour shifts. In the event a charge is needed, the vehicle is DC-Fast Charge compatible and can be 85% charged in just 45 minutes.

Battery electric school bus: More than 450 electric school buses are already on the road across the country, according to Cummins, which showcased a Cummins-powered Blue Bird electric school bus. Electric buses have a lower maintenance cost than buses with internal combustion engines, the company said, and produce no tailpipe emissions during use. A central charging point can be built at a bus station.


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