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There are numerous companies working on hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines, most notably BMW with its Hydrogen7. Mazda however, is uniquely positioned to take advantage of hydrogen as a combustion fuel. They are, after all, the only manufacturer currently building Wankel rotary engines. The nature of the rotary engine - where the intake and combustion chambers are separate - makes the design well suited to the rapid burn characteristics of hydrogen. Mazda is also using direct injection of the hydrogen to time the combustion more precisely. Piston engines can have issues with backfiring when fueled on H2 but Mazda has been running a fleet of over 30 hydrogen-fueled rotary RX-8s for several years with some success. Last week at the Paris Motor Show, James Muir, Mazda Europe's CEO, told AutoCar that the Japanese carmaker plans to mass produce hydrogen-fueled Wankel engines but it will take another half decade. The main stumbling block? Same as for everyone else: hydrogen storage.

[Source: AutoCar]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 10 Comments
      • 5 Months Ago
      Hydrogen -- the perfect fuel for people who can freely spend other people's money.

      Wankel -- the perfect engine for people unconcerned with fuel efficiency or long-term reliability.

      Yup. A perfect match. Unless this is just a "trial balloon" or just a cynical PR play on the perception that hydrogen is somehow a viable fuel (in defiance of the laws of physics and chemistry), I would guess now is the time for short sales on Mazda stock.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Rotary engines aren't known for fuel efficiency.
      • 5 Months Ago
      "This is just about the dumbest idea I can think of, because of what Bill said and because rotaries also aren't known for their long-term reliability."

      While it is true that a Wankel motor isn't particularly efficient as far as fuel consumption is concerned, Mazda has perfected the manufacture of the apex seal, which is the most critical component of a Wankel motor. By eliminating the problem with the apex seal, Mazda was able to produce a highly reliable Wankel engine. One will get the same, if not higher mileage out of a Mazda Wankel as one would from a run 'o the mill gasoline engine.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If the 12 MPG RX-8 ends up solving the energy crisis my irony meter will explode.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I wonder how they perform.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Rotary engines are compact and lightweight, but not very efficient. To make matters worse, it isn't possible to store enough H2 to get a reasonable range, so it will end up running mostly on gasoline instead - especially since H2 fuel costs twice as much as gasoline!

      H2 storage is expensive, whether with ultra-high pressure, or with cryogenic liquid H2, or with metal hydrides. H2 storage costs more than LiIon batteries.

      With plug-ins being cheaper than H2-ICE, methinks Mazda will come up with their own plug-in hybrid and quietly drop this H2 project.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Burning hydrogen makes even less sense than using it in fuel cells. Fuel Cells might hit 40%, while burning in an ICE is more like 25%.

      And those are at the end of all the other inefficiencies creating hydrogen, compressing hydrogen, transporting hydrogen and having evaporate out of your tank...
      • 5 Months Ago
      You forget, there's one thing John and Jane Q. Public understand very well: price. Hydrogen simply costs too much, both as a fuel and as a drivetrain for a car. EVs will come down in price far sooner than hydrogen, and once an EV quick-charger network is developed, there won't be any point to hydrogen at all.
      • 5 Months Ago
      This is just about the dumbest idea I can think of, because of what Bill said and because rotaries also aren't known for their long-term reliability. Furthermore, any ICE that burns hydrogen with air will produce NOxes and thus won't be a zero-emissions vehicle.
      • 5 Months Ago
      While all stated here is very true, in the end I think its what the joe 6 pack public thinks. And if they equate hydrogen = good/clean then the details will just be lost in translation....