These Patent Claims Show Ferrari’s Interest In Hydrogen Combustion Engines - SUV VEHICLE

These Patent Claims Show Ferrari’s Interest In Hydrogen Combustion Engines



  • Ferrari hints at groundbreaking projects including a hydrogen-powered car with an inline-six engine in the middle for efficiency and innovative design.
  • The unique design features an upside-down engine layout, introducing new concepts like dry-sump lubrication and electric motor-assisted forced induction.
  • While Ferrari explores hydrogen power, Toyota leads the way with its HCE technology for race cars and upcoming road cars, continuing advancements in the industry.

The world of hydrogen-powered cars is set to ramp up within the next five years, with brands such as BMW, Toyota, and Hyundai planning to invest heavily in the technology. In a recent patent filed on August 25th of 2022, Ferrari hinted at its potential experimental designs for a hydrogen-powered combustion sports car, which would undoubtedly shape up to be one of the Prancing Horse’s most ambitious projects to date.

The Patent is credited to long-standing Ferrari engineer Fabrizio Favaretto, who, throughout his 24 years working with the iconic brand, has overseen multiple different departments. At the time of filing for the patent, Favaretto was the Vehicle and Powertrain Architectures Manager for Ferrari, a position which he still holds today, according to his LinkedIn profile. The details for the hydrogen-powered combustion sports cars are nothing short of classic Ferrari innovation, applying both modern and future technologies in all-new ways.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from Espacenet and other authoritative sources, including Motor Trend.

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An Upside-down Hydrogen-powered Combustion Engine

At the forefront of the patent concept is the car’s efficiency without sacrificing performance. The patent received some backlash because the combustion engine would be an inline-six that sits in the middle of the car, instead of a V-8 or V-12, which Ferrari is famous for.

However, it makes perfect sense for an inline-six to be the preferred engine choice for the patent, as it allows for more room to fit the four necessary high-pressure hydrogen tanks, all capable of storing 10,000 PSI of hydrogen gas. The design also has the engine arranged longitudinally for the same reason. The patent also states that the engine could be arranged transversely.

The four tanks would be arranged differently, specifically in pairs. The first two tanks would be spherical, being positioned on either side of the combustion engine at the same vertical elevation. Moving to the second pair of tanks features a cylindrical shape and would be arranged above the combustion engine, with one placed in front of the other.

Turning Things Upside Down

Red Portofino M front-quarter tracking

Easily the most ambitious and surprising element of Ferrari’s dive into hydrogen power is the idea of literally turning it upside down. This means that the crankshaft would be the highest point of the engine, with the cylinder head being at the bottom. The only logical reason for Ferrari opting for this inverted arrangement is to accommodate the four hydrogen tanks and house the induction system as efficiently as possible. Of course, the induction system itself is also far from ordinary. The transaxle can also be placed higher up with this configuration, keeping the wheelbase short.

Despite being upside down, the combustion engine still follows structural conventions but makes some changes to accommodate the layout. The car’s intake system draws environmental air, as a normal car would, with the system’s intake manifold connecting to each cylinder. Each cylinder would have its own combustion chamber and a piston that mechanically connects to a drive shaft via a connecting rod.

Blue Portofino M rear-quarter

The car would also include two intake ducts on either side of the car, with air filters originating from inlets in the bodywork. Compressor units are also used within the intake manifold, improving the volumetric efficiency of each cylinder. The systems all connect to each other, starting with the intake duct leading to the compressor unit, then to the intercoolers, and finally to the intake manifold.

One initial problem that an upside-down engine proposes is how the oil can effectively move throughout the engine. Ferrari, unsurprisingly, came up with a unique fix to this potential problem, using a dry-sump lubrication system. The patent mentions that the lubrication system comprises a delivering pump that draws oil from a reservoir and pumps it back into the engine. Also, two recovery pumps are used, located on either side of the engine block.

These pumps gather oil from the block, starting at the lowest point, and then from the cylinder head to fill the reservoir mentioned. Along with the lubrication system, a coolant system connected to the camshaft is also present in Ferrari’s radical patent.

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Bold Ideas To Achieve Forced Induction

Red Ferrari 488 Pista

Forced induction seems to be the clear path that Ferrari is taking with this patent, but the ways in which they aim to achieve this rival the idea of an upside-down engine. As well as being hydrogen-powered, the recent patent gives a brief insight into the usage of an electric motor that would power the front wheels, but details are much more scarce about this area of the car.

What we can gather from the document, however, is that a single electric motor would feature two centrifugal compressors fitted on either side of it. The two turbines would be connected to a transmission device, which allows them to both be powered equally at the same time.

Power for the compressors would be generated under braking, which would require a battery to store the energy. A battery isn’t mentioned in the patent, but that seems to be the only feasible way the compressors would be able to receive the energy to then deliver to the motor.

Yet another idea to include electric power comes in the form of a twin turbine configuration, which would be connected to a transmission system. The two turbines would then power the same electric generator. The combination of both hydrogen and electric power would reach new levels of efficiency while maintaining the performance that all Ferraris simply must have.

The Radical Ideas For Supercharges And Transmissions

Ferrari Portofino M marina

In another bid to effectively implement force induction for the engine, Ferrari also appears to be looking into using more traditional components, such as superchargers, but using them in combination with an unorthodox transmission system. The transmission itself isn’t anything out of the ordinary: a seven-speed dual-clutch system.

What makes it rather unusual is that the dual-clutch assembly wouldn’t be connected to the engine; the input shaft would connect to the crankshaft instead. Keeping on topic with the dual-clutch transmission, the patent also proposes another force induction method, which removes the need for electric power completely. The configuration would instead use one of the transmission’s shafts to send power directly to the superchargers.

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What Existing Cars Feature Similar Ideas?

Toyota GR Yaris H2

While it can’t be confirmed if Ferrari is genuinely considering developing a car using this hydrogen-powered combustion hybrid layout, we probably won’t see it for quite some time if so. Another likely scenario is that Ferrari wants to patent plenty of ideas for a future hydrogen-powered car, to ensure their concepts can’t be used by anyone else.

The patent does outline fairly specific ideas, but aspects such as the inline-six engine could still be changed for a larger or smaller engine. But by having the patent for the specific layout, Ferrari can be confident that they’ll be the first to use it, even if it is incredibly confusing right now.

The Pioneers At Toyota

Toyota H2 Le Mans

Despite Ferrari’s concept to build a car powered by hydrogen, the Italian brand is by no means the only manufacturer to be exploring the possibilities. Toyota is a brand that is heavily investing in the prospect of hydrogen combustion engines, looking to extract the monumental environmental benefits the gas can provide.

The brand’s H2 engine is powered by hydrogen, which was initially designed for racecars. The Toyota GR Corrola H2 is one of these cars, competing in endurance racing for Rookie Racing. Stepping up a level, Toyota has recently unveiled its entry for the Le Mans Hydrogen category using the H2 engine, which is now expected to launch in 2027.

Moving onto Toyota’s road cars, the brand has been at the forefront of pioneering HCE cars for decades. In 2024, Toyota has a patent-pending water-cooled engine lined up for its future, which aims to tackle the overheating challenges that HCEs can face.

A controlled system will pump water into the combustion chambers using valves to regulate how much water gets through. Toyota hasn’t dived head first into EVs like other brands, but most definitely sees a bright future for hydrogen-powered cars, and for good reason.

Advancements Throughout The Industry

2025 Honda CR-V eFCEV

It’s not just Toyota that sees the extraordinary benefits that HCEs can provide; the movement has stretched to just about every corner of the automotive industry. Honda is another key player in the development of hydrogen vehicles, joining the Hydrogen Small Mobility & Engine technology group along with Toyota, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Suzuki. With motorcycle brands Kawasaki and Yamaha also seeing the benefits of hydrogen power, we can expect much of the innovation to hail from Japan in the near future.


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