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| 1 minute read

Can a Hydrogen Motorcycle beat its Gasoline Counterpart?

In anticipation of UK Hydrogen Week beginning next Monday, the team at M&C will be sharing a number of hydrogen-related insights over the coming days from around the globe.

The Electric Vehicle Team (EVT) at MIT, a group of academics who research the implementation of clean energy into small vehicles, have recently designed a hydrogen-fuelled motorcycle as a prototype for their interest into starting conversations around the hydrogen economy. Based on the frame of a 1999 Ducati 900SS with nothing but steering, brakes and suspension, the team has mosaicked both donated parts from industry sponsors and custom-built components in order to arrive at their model. This announcement follows recent development into the use of combustible hydrogen as an emerging fuel for motorcycles, with Japanese manufacturers such as Kawasaki and Suzuki spearheading the R&D into such engines.   

However, unlike these predecessors, the EVT’s motorcycle utilises a hydrogen fuel cell to power the vehicle, meaning that it relies on an electrochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity for power, with water being the only by-product. Additionally, as the EVT’s prototype is designed for solely research purposes, many of its custom components may be substituted to probe its design and fuel efficiency, which the researchers hope will provide meaningful data as a means of advancing small hydrogen vehicle technology. 

Having already demonstrated their vehicle at the Hydrogen Americas Summit last October, the team will travel to Rotterdam Ahoy in May to showcase the hydrogen electric fuel-cell bike at the World Hydrogen Summit — the world's largest dedicated hydrogen event. Crucially, in addition to these presentations, the group is currently developing a pseudo-textbook of their design process as an open-access resource, and aim to publish their findings in academic journals. Moving forwards, the EVT are keen to realise the full potential of their prototype and, most importantly, are striving to answer the question: can we beat a gasoline bike?

The few prototypes developed previously by some companies were inefficient and expensive, he says. “So far as we know, we are the first fully open-source, rigorously documented, tested and released-as-a-platform, [fuel cell] motorcycle in the world. No one else has made a motorcycle and tested it to the level that we have, and documented to the point that someone might actually be able to take this and scale it in the future, or use it in research.”


Sustainability, chemistry, climate change, transport, yes