Combustion isn't dead, it just won't use gasoline in future.
If you thought that Ford was all-in on EVs and nothing else, you were wrong. The brand doesn't want to leave anything on the table, as evidenced by a recent patent filing. Moreover, these new patents could be a way to keep the combustion engine going for longer than anyone thought it would. It'd be hard to sell the Ford Mustang without that legendary V8 under the hood, and these patents could help.
The patent documents filed with the USPTO were first discovered by Muscle Cars & Trucks. In it, Ford describes a turbocharged combustion engine running on hydrogen, capable of running in various states and combustion air ratios. This system would create leaner operating ratios than a traditional gasoline engine, mitigating some of the detonation risks associated with hydrogen as a fuel.
The patent describes a direct injection motor, allowing the fuel and air intake to be controlled independently of one another. In doing this, the hydrogen could produce 15% more power than gasoline, theoretically. The engine design from Ford proposes using exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) to manage the combustion process, adjusting the lambda value depending on whether more power or torque is needed. By controlling lambda - which is the value given to represent a fuel's ratio with oxygen to complete a full burn - Ford hopes to prevent pre-ignition (engine knock) and maximize the efficiency of hydrogen, which is a relatively volatile fuel source. A higher EGR would reduce temperatures within the combustion chamber, reducing the chances of pre-ignition and creating a richer air/fuel ratio resulting in more torque. The EGR would adjust under low-torque demand to result in a leaner fuel/air mixture and more efficient running.
Ford would use multiple cam profiles to enable this, where "the inlet valve performs two mutually independent valve strokes during one working cycle." Ford's patent claims a second valve stroke could be performed before the actual intake valve stroke, requiring a fully variable valve controller, akin to Koenigsegg's FreeValve technology.
The patent also talks about how this hydrogen combustion setup could be used in a hybrid format as well, showcasing an electric motor between the engine and transmission. The wording of the document proclaims that multiple forms of hybridization are plausible, however, including series, parallel, and series-parallel hybridization.
Ford isn't the only automaker to be looking into hybridization. BMW has a hydrogen-powered iX5 currently doing the rounds, while Toyota has powered not only a GR Yaris with hydrogen, but has worked with Yamaha on a hydrogen-powered version of the Lexus 5.0-liter V8.