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A team of innovative students has unveiled a prototype hydrogen-powered motorcycle, aiming to provide an eco-friendly alternative to traditional gasoline models.
Sustainable mobility is a recurring theme for us. While electric vehicles dominate the present, we continue exploring alternatives such as green hydrogen. Recently, we featured a hydrogen bike recharging via solar panels. MIT students have now introduced a prototype motorcycle moving in a similar green direction. Discover their breakthrough and other emerging alternatives.
MIT’s Electric Vehicle Team leads a project to create a financially viable hydrogen motorcycle, addressing a gap in the market. Since January 2023, the team has focused on integrating a commercially available hydrogen fuel cell and electric motor, subjecting the vehicle to various tests, first with a dynamometer similar to a "treadmill" for motorcycles and then on a real-world track. In addition, they have been working on the installation of the hydrogen tank and the various connectors. The next step will be to develop a custom electric motor, which will give them much more flexibility.
More than just a motorcycle, this prototype is a versatile development platform, allowing for swift component replacement and iterative testing. The team believes successful hydrogen vehicles will spur the growth of refueling infrastructure, promoting widespread adoption.
Thus, they plan to use an open-source approach, providing documentation for fellow industry players and research teams interested in advancing hydrogen-powered transportation. So far, they have presented their progress at the Hydrogen Americas Summit and hope to showcase a more advanced version at the World Hydrogen Summit.
Generally, this type of vehicle can equip either an internal combustion engine adapted for direct hydrogen injection or a hydrogen fuel cell that converts chemical energy into electrical energy. In the latter case, we are not talking about hydrogen engines, but electric motors powered by fuel cells.
Without going into technical details, hydrogen cells use electrodes to obtain protons and electrons from hydrogen. In addition, they have an electrolyte, i.e., a chemical solution, which separates the gases and allows the ions to move. The result is the generation of electricity and the emission of heat and water as a by-product of the reaction. For this reason, as long as green hydrogen is used, it is considered a clean and renewable energy.
Among the prototypes in development, Kawasaki showcased its hydrogen-powered model at the 2022 Milan show. Featuring a direct hydrogen injection system, and based on its H2 SX street model, it features two hydrogen tanks at the rear. Unlike the MIT hydrogen motorcycle, it will operate with a direct hydrogen injection system instead of a fuel cell. The first street tests will be conducted in 2024, but it is not expected to reach the market until 2030.
For now Kawasaki has not announced the price of this model, but other companies such as Xiaomi or Segway are working on their own hydrogen motorcycles that will go on sale for about 10 000 €. If you want to know more about this kind of sustainable mobility and clean energy technologies, subscribe to our newsletter below.