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12 Jan 2024

Volvo Group decides to continue their hydrogen research for the internal combustion engine with PhD scholarships

Amy Power
Volvo Group decides to continue their hydrogen research for the internal combustion engine with PhD scholarships

Volvo Group has announced their decision to continue developing the internal combustion engine with hydrogen, for it to become a propulsion technology. On top of this, they have decided to launch PhD scholarships for this project, which will involve two PhD students conducting research at Chalmers University of Technology and at Lund University, whilst also being employed by the Volvo Group.

This concept of using hydrogen within an internal combustion engine fits in well with Volvo Group’s use of a range of propulsion technologies. The group is working towards their aim of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emission-enabled products, along with solutions and services by 2040. So far, the company has been able to put battery-electric solutions on offer and is also pursuing the field of hydrogen through large investments. Their interest in the field of hydrogen stems from their interest in hydrogen’s role in fuel cell applications, as well as hydrogen’s use as a renewable fuel for combustion engines.

Although interest in researching and developing combustion engines has declined, Volvo Group remains one of the automotive companies who continues to be interested in them. The company remains interested due to the potential the technology has as a solution for helping trucks, buses, construction, marine and industry sectors reach net zero. Combustion engines has always been one of Volvo Group’s key focuses and it is still very relevant to them to this day, due to the potential they see it having for the current landscape and the future landscape, as well as in new technologies.

Therefore, due to their continued interest, Volvo Group decided to set up their VICE scholarship (Volvo Internal Combustion Engine) as this will allow them to secure continued competence of internal combustion engine technology. Without this scholarship, continuing work on the engines would not be possible, as there is currently not enough public funding within this field of technology for academic research. This results in reduced interest among students, so the scholarship was created not only to secure the ability to work on the combustion engines, but also to draw in students again and as this has so far been successful, the PhD program has a recruitment starting date of early 2024.

The plan once the students are employed will follow along the lines of the students completing their research throughout 2024-2029, whilst they are being supported through their employment with Volvo Group, who have also said they will finance research, supervision and experimental expenses.

Chief Technology Officer Volvo Group, Lars Stenqvist, commented, “We believe that the future will demand varied propulsion applications to meet our customers’ needs and environmental demands. This is why we are taking a three-pronged approach to propulsion. I see the internal combustion engine running on green hydrogen as another solution of high interest which we are currently testing in our engine labs and test vehicles.” Lars continued, “Our scholarship is an initiative to not only safeguard education of researchers but also to aid the transition to sustainable transportation with one of the three propulsion technologies of the Volvo Group. It’s important for industry and academia to have a strong partnership and we welcome more initiatives to secure long-term knowledge of the internal combustion engine.”

President and CEO, Chalmers University of Technology, Martin Nilsson Jacobi, added, “Hydrogen research at Chalmers, not least with the TechForH2 center, is an exciting and collaborative environment that will be further enriched with the new PhD scholarship. The technology being developed represents further steps in the transition to a fossil-free society. Hydrogen combustion can create robustness and thereby help us cope with many global transition scenarios."

Professor and Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Lund University, Annika Olsson, mentioned “In the last few years, funding for research into internal combustion engines has been reduced and national competence centers have disappeared. But in order to contribute to reduced dependence on fossil-based fuels and at the same time increase growth for Swedish companies, we need strong education and research on future propulsion technologies, in close collaboration between industry and academia. Hydrogen from surplus electricity is an example of an area where we together have the opportunity to achieve a technological leap for the benefit of the climate."

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