A group of young Portuguese engineers decided to make their contribution to the industry, automotive and beyond, by designing a device that would improve the combustion of engines burning fossil fuels, from diesel to gasoline and LPG to natural gas. It was 2012 and the company they formed, Ultimate Power, quickly created Ultimate Cell, which produces hydrogen internally, then injecting it into the engine intake, where, mixed with air and fuel, it facilitates the burning of the latter.
The original equipment evolved into an improved version after a year, the V2, for the V3 to emerge in 2015, already with a variable hydrogen production output and dependent on the needs of the engine, determined by the vacuum in the collector.
The operation of Ultimate Cell is simple and effective, having already been tested by the Instituto Superior Técnico, the Institute of Welding and Quality, besides being approved by the Institute of Mobility and Transport of Portugal (IMT), and the Bureau Veritas of Hamburg, specialized in European tests and certifications, having received the E-Mark seal, which guarantees it to comply with the standard required for products to be used in road vehicles. As if this were not enough, it was also approved by the Lisbon Chamber as a device that reduces emissions, which has led to the fact that vehicles that assemble it can be promoted a step in the emissions rating, going from Euro 1 to Euro 2, or from Euro 2 to Euro 3, allowing them to move again in the reduced emissions areas of the city.
Still, if some people use Ultimate Cell and proclaim spectacular gains in consumption, since emissions are impossible to determine without the proper equipment, there are other drivers who complain they don’t feel tangible improvements. This led the Observer to get to work and carry out the test, using an independent company that made available to us a modern and properly calibrated test bench, to ensure certainty in the results achieved, which we would then put to the test on the road, in real conditions of use.
We started with the selection of the vehicle that would serve as a guinea pig, having decided that it would be a model with diesel engine because, according to Ultimate Power, this is the type of fuel most used by customers who assemble the Ultimate Cell in Portugal. Once the type of engine was determined, a vehicle was then imposed, equipped with a particulate filter but about 10 years old, below the average age of the market, but still with a few kilometers, to better represent the national reality. It also had to be a popular vehicle, so the option was a VW Golf 1.6 TDI, with 105 hp.
After a pass through the dealer, to verify that the engine was working properly and that it was already assembling the latest software, it was time to move to the roller bank. The responsible technician spared no effort and began testing the model before assembling the device, performing measurements at different speeds, respectively 60, 80, 100 and 120 km/h, always at fourth speed (corresponding to, respectively, 1550, 2050, 2600 and 3100 rpm of the engine), then repeating the collection of data with different arrests in the rollers – 300, 500, 700 and 900 Newtons – thus subjecting the engine to four different load levels, in the eagerness of consumption detects and higher emissions in the most varied conditions.
The analysis of pollutant emissions carried out in a test bench, with four levels of imprisonment in the rollers and four distinct speed levels
The measuring equipment allowed to determine 59 different types of information. But to make the conclusions easier to assimilate, without pinching the rigour of the work done, we will confine ourselves directly to those directly related to consumption and emissions of both carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrocarbons (HC), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and smoke particles. In short, the original purpose of the work we set ourselves.
In the measurements carried out with the highest load on the engine, i.e. rolls with a force of 900 N and the vehicle at 120 km/h at 4th speed, the smoke particles had a concentration of 3,728 milligrams per cubic meter, falling to only 1,274 mg/m3, i.e. a reduction of 65.83%. Under the same conditions, CO2 was reduced by only 1.1%, with HC revealing a more evident cut, from 40.14 parts per million to only 28.93 ppm, a reduction of 27.03%. NOx also reported a considerable decrease with Ultimate Cell, from 32.04%, the result of having gone from 699.77 ppm to 475.59 ppm.
Still on the test bench, but now in the situation of less load on the engine (rollers at 300 N and at a speed of only 60 km/h), which is equivalent to a trip in plane at constant and reduced speed, most of the measured values dropped considerably, dragging with them the ability of the device to make a difference. The particles fell from 3.72 mg/m3 (at 900N and 120 km/h) to 3.14 mg/m3 (at 300N and 60 km/h), with the hydrogen injecting device making them practically disappear (0.02 mg/m3). There was no considerable reduction in CO2 emissions (which essentially depends on consumption) between the maximum and minimum load situation, falling only from 6.26% to 6.17%, although we do not have absolute co2 in g/km, but rather as a percentage of the total volume of exhaust gases, which are obviously lower with less load on the engine. Ultimate Cell allowed to cut another 7.2% (passing the value to 5.73%).
HC (in practical unburned fuel) increased considerably with the reduction of the load, going from 40 ppm to 106 ppm, with the device acting and reducing the value to only 28 ppm, a cut of 74%. In NOx, the lowest load on the engine reduced the temperature in the combustion chamber and, with it, emissions of nitrogen oxides, which fell 84%, from 699 ppm to only 295 ppm without the Ultimate Cell and 286 ppm with it installed.
According to the manufacturer, the lower the engine efficiency, the greater the potential for reducing the consumption and emissions of the hydrogen emitting cell, the values of which will be more expressive in a vehicle with a consumption of 8 liters than in another that reaches averages close to 5 l/100 km. The advantages of the device in terms of emissions would theoretically be greater in a model that, unlike that used, did not have a catalyst or particle filter.
The data revealed by the roller bank had already left in the air the idea that the reduction in consumption of this Golf 1.6 TDI 2009 would be below the expectations advanced by the manufacturer. CO2 emissions are directly related to consumption and, according to the test bench, Ultimate Cell ensured a gain between 1.1% and 7.2%, depending on the engine load situation, with a reduction of 10.3% to 100 km/h with 700N, for with 900N there were two occasions when there was an increase between 1 and 2%.
The road test took place on a 345 km course, always completed at 120 km/h on motorway and 90 km/h on the road, which led us to be overtaken by most other vehicles. With four adults on board, the 2009 Golf diesel, which charged 111,512 km at the start of testing, recorded an average of 5.02 l/100 km, without the device mounted. Interestingly, while the on-board computer, which proved less sensitive with the tank full, pointed to 6.19 l/100 km.
After installing the Ultimate Cell, on the same route, the same conditions and with the same four adults on board, the VW made the route at an average of 4.89 l/100 km (6.01 km on the on-board computer), always out of hours so that the eventual traffic did not harm the measurements. The reduction recorded was 2.6% in actual consumption and 2.9% according to the model’s on-board computer.
The next generation’s small Ultimate Cell, the V3, already with hydrogen débido proportional to the needs of the engine
We have already told you that the device we revolved by the test, manufactured by a Portuguese company, produces hydrogen and injects it into the intake system, where it joins with the air and fuel admitted by the engine. In essence, the Ultimate Cell has a volume equivalent to three packs of tobacco, is powered by a connection to the vehicle battery, from which it extracts the equivalent of 5W, appreciably the consumption of one of the lamps that illuminate the license plate. With this tiny amount of energy, the two electrodes immersed in a solution developed by Ultimate Power electrolyte the liquid, producing hydrogen, which is then driven by a small tube towards the engine.
A higher request of the engine corresponds to a higher production of hydrogen (in the V3 version of the cell), and the equipment (with a recommended price of 295€) requires a recharge every 50,000 km, which carries an approximate cost of 40€. Fuels derived from petroleum refining are essentially carbon and hydrogen chains. It turns out that, during combustion, these chains are not always easy to break and depends on the efficiency of combustion. The additional hydrogen provided by Ultimate Cell will help break these bonds by burning the mixture better.
The machine we tested is regulated to optimize combustion,…