Home » Kawasaki’s First Hydrogen-Powered Bike Is A Masterpiece Straight From Anime

Kawasaki’s First Hydrogen-Powered Bike Is A Masterpiece Straight From Anime

Kawasaki H2 Hyse Ts
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For the most part, motorcycle technological development nowadays seems to be following a similar path to cars. Multiple companies are at work to make motorcycles automated, electric, and safer. You can get an airbag on a Honda and brands like BMW will give you radar cruise control. Recently, we’ve seen motorcycles that balance themselves and motorcycles that can ride themselves. One thing you don’t see at all is hydrogen power. That hasn’t stopped Kawasaki, which has been developing what it calls the “world’s first hydrogen sports bike” and has shown off its first real prototype for it. This bike looks like it was ripped right out of a frame of anime or a page of manga.

Kawasaki’s motorcycle division has ambitious plans for the future. In 2021, Team Green announced that by 2035, all of its motorcycles sold in Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States will be electric. It’s all part of what Kawasaki calls Group Vision 2030. You’d think this would be an initiative to build greener solutions, and it is, sort of. Group Vision 2030 is Kawasaki’s plan to provide: “A Safe and Secure Remotely-Connected Society,” “Near-Future Mobility,” and “Energy and Environmental Solutions.” When you read it, the plans are sort of vague, but it makes more sense when you look at what’s in store. On the road to its 2035 goal, Kawasaki has promised 10 electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.

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Vidframe Min Bottom

We’ve already seen the 2024 Kawasaki Ninja e-1 and 2024 Kawasaki Z e-1, and those bikes are only the beginning. In Kawasaki’s pipeline is the Ninja HEV, a hybrid-electric motorcycle that works like a Toyota Prius. Hybrids aren’t even new in the two wheel world. Yamaha and Honda have produced hybrid scooters, but America wasn’t cool enough to get them. Amazingly, Kawasaki says it’s going to deliver the hybrid Ninja next spring, so that motorcycle is definitely worth looking at, too!

Kawasaki H2sx 20231212 00 2
Kawasaki via Webike Japan

Perhaps even more aspiring than the hybrid is Kawasaki’s determination to make at least one hydrogen motorcycle, pictured above.

That one, the Ninja H2 HySE (Hydrogen Small Mobility & Engine Technology) hydrogen motorcycle, is expected to come out around 2030. That’s far off, but Kawasaki has shown signs of actual development. The motorcycle has finally left render stages and as Webike Japan first reported, Kawasaki finally has a prototype.

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Hydrogen Power

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Kawasaki

As Webike Japan writes, the reveal of the prototype motorcycle was not its own announcement, but the centerpiece of Kawasaki’s ‘Group Vision 2030 Business Report Meeting‘ held just a couple of days ago. You can take a peek at it right here. It was one of those things where if you didn’t know what you were looking for, you would miss it.

In the meeting, Kawasaki Heavy Industries explained its plans to get greener on its path to sales of 1 trillion yen by 2030. One of the vehicles to help achieve this goal will be the Ninja H2 HySE hydrogen motorcycle. Before now, the Ninja H2 HySE was shown only in renders and I wouldn’t blame you if you said it was pure vaporware. However, Kawasaki intends to prove the doubters wrong, as the motorcycle has finally entered the prototyping stage. There’s now at least one real Kawasaki hydrogen motorcycle, and the firm says testing begins early next year. The powersports company plans on proving the engine by powering a buggy with it and entering it into the Dakar Rally next month.

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Kawasaki

The hydrogen motorcycle concept was unveiled just last year at the EICMA show in Milan, so it would appear Kawasaki is moving relatively fast. Since we’re still in the early stages of development, Kawasaki has not revealed much about the new bike, but what we do know sounds exciting.

Kawasaki says its hydrogen motorcycle is based on the fabled Ninja H2 SX platform. It’s a fantastic foundation to use. Launched in 2015, the Ninja H2 was Team Green’s answer to fans’ request for the motorcycle maker to build a modern equivalent of the famous H2 Mach IV of the 1970s. Kawasaki delivered with a supercharged four-cylinder beast that can achieve over 200 mph in street-legal form and 249 mph in H2R track bike form.

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Kawasaki

To get the H2 to such speeds and with power that starts at 228 HP, Kawasaki fitted a supercharger, which is rare in the motorcycle world. That develops the power, and it’s captured with the help of a strengthened frame and aerodynamics borrowed from aviation. Kawasaki even had to develop new giant scoops just to keep the engine cool.

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The up-to-326 HP H2R currently holds the title for the second fastest production motorcycle, right behind the raucous MTT Turbine Motorcycle.

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Kawasaki

The H2 SX, which the hydrogen motorcycle is based on, is the H2 platform toned down a bit to be better for touring. That will lend it some good bones, but it goes further than that. As a gasoline-powered motorcycle, the H2 SX is a hypersport powered by a supercharged 998cc inline-four making 197 HP. Kawasaki says the hydrogen engine, which is being developed with Toyota, is based on this engine.

The pair hasn’t said much more about that, aside from the fact that it’s also been implanted into a Teryx KRX 1000 side-by-side (above), and then into the HySE-X1 buggy for the Dakar. Something interesting to note is that the hydrogen side-by-side also has Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki logos on it, though it’s unclear what their input is.

Anime Vibes

Kawasaki H2sx 20231212 02 1
Kawasaki via Webike Japan

What is clear is that the Ninja H2 HySE looks like something straight out of anime. The prototype’s body follows the same shape as the donor Ninja H2, but with far different panels.

The biggest thing to note is what’s going on in the back. First, the Ninja H2 HySE has a neat dual-taillight design going on back there. More important is what’s under those lights. Those look like hard panniers, but they’re really storage compartments for the hydrogen canisters. Here’s what that storage looks like on the concept bike render:

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Kawasaki

Sadly, we don’t have any more details about the hydrogen motorcycle aside from the fact that those who were at the physical version of the briefing in Japan got to see the prototype in person. So, for now, we’ll have to wait until more news trickles down.

That news may come from elsewhere, too, as Kawasaki’s hydrogen engine plans expand farther out than a motorcycle and a side-by-side.

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Kawasaki

Also included in the “Group Vision 2030 Business Report Meeting” was the announcement that Kawasaki is going to take the H2’s engine, add two cylinders, turbocharge it, and put it into a plane. Later, that engine will also be developed into a hydrogen engine.

Of course, given the sorry state of hydrogen vehicles in America, we probably won’t see the Kawasaki Ninja H2 HySE outside of California, if we even see it at all. Is chasing hydrogen the right bet for Kawasaki’s future? I don’t know, but that hydrogen motorcycle already sounds like a ton of fun. It’s going to be interesting to watch this project develop over the next six years.

Kawasaki H2sx 20231212 11
Kawasaki via Webike Japan

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Bassracerx
Bassracerx
3 months ago

that moped got a LOT of cake

Baron Usurper
Baron Usurper
3 months ago

It’s beautiful. Make it electric and it could be in stores tomorrow.
Oh my no, we’re gonna keep pretending H2 is viable.

Matthew Skwarczek
Matthew Skwarczek
4 months ago

If you ride this, this must play in the background at all times:
https://youtu.be/Y2PUCc7djLc?si=S8GZQwdHxi_z3h1v

Joshua Christian
Joshua Christian
3 months ago

Bubblegum Crisis, Hell yeah!

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
4 months ago

It’s all fun and games until the Ewoks steal it.

Vee
Vee
4 months ago

I get the feeling somebody at Kawasaki grew up watching a ton of Genesis Climber Mospeada, because aside from the missing side shocks where the guns mounted this looks just like one of the titular Mospeadas.

Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour
4 months ago

I hope it turns into a mecha suit!

Naterator
Naterator
4 months ago

Elon called Hydrogen “dumb”. I think he’ll eventually warm up to it.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago
Reply to  Naterator

No he’s still correct. I expect this motorcycle is part of an attempt to green wash this:

https://www.hydrocarbons-technology.com/news/kawasaki-hydrogen-production-brown-coal/

This project is just starting so it’s in the “let us pollute now and we pinkie promise we’ll fix the emissions later” phase:

https://www.hydrogeninsight.com/production/-concerns-decision-on-australia-s-controversial-coal-to-hydrogen-project-handed-to-regional-planning-minister/2-1-1504218

Goblin
Goblin
4 months ago

I think it is way overdue for all automotive design schools throughout the world to get anti drug crackdowns, in masse, and for any designer whose project goes outside of the in-school dark rooms to be thoroughly drug tested before, during and after the project.

More so if the teams in question are from brand who have contributed to design’s history in a massive way, like – say – Kawasaki or BMW.

Enough is enough. Things are getting scary by now.

Standing on the shoulders of giants doesn’t mean one is allowed to piss on their heads because one’s stream can only go that far, or the limpness of one’s design ideas is pointing said stream directly downards.

SarlaccRoadster
SarlaccRoadster
4 months ago
Reply to  Goblin

On the contrary, I think they should double the crack budget, while also making new lines in there for LSD and meth! 🙂

I’m here for all the Kawasaki lunacy, they are the Mazda of the motorcycle world: the smallest japanese bike-maker by sales, with the most unhinged ideas.

Supercharged mass market bike? 250cc inline 4 sportbike? Hydrogen-powered Akira bike? New turbo inline-6 for aircraft? We’ll build them all!

Imagine working at Honda or Suzuki and coming up with any of these ideas.. you’d be laughed out of meetings
..then Kawasaki would offer you a job 🙂

Goblin
Goblin
4 months ago

I’m a Kawasaki guy, and they have my blessing to be unhinged and beautiful, like Mazdas indeed are. But they are unhinged and ugly.

I am talking about exterior design, not what’s under the hood. Kawasaki has not released anything good looking in the last 10 years. And they insist on looking worse and worse, and having blunderbuss-looking exhausts, where other brands manage to fit all the mandatory crap inside still good looking exhausts. It’s tiring.

Alec Rosenbaum
Alec Rosenbaum
4 months ago

Am I the only one who got Starship Enterprise vibes looking at the rear quarter view?

Subarado
Subarado
3 months ago
Reply to  Alec Rosenbaum

It’s the nacelles!

AssMatt
AssMatt
4 months ago

I like the neat H-for-Hydrogen headlamp. Very superhero.

Electronika
Electronika
4 months ago

its rad looking kinda but its TOO bulky!!!! Its like jumping on the first gen Goldwing Cafe racer I built. it looks cool from a distance but when you sit on it you feel like a little kid sitting on your dad’s bike. TOO BIG

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
4 months ago

This is so fucking stupid.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
4 months ago

It’s a concept and sounds like an eventual R&D test bed. What’s not fuckin’ cool about companies trying to develop new shit?

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
4 months ago
Reply to  BolognaBurrito

Hey I’m all for companies doing cool shit HOWEVER:

Hydrogen combustion is not a new concept, it’s just a “plan” that certain manufacturers are leaning towards because they haven’t adapted. (i.e. Cummins)Smaller vehicles make more sense as an EV vs. Hydrogen (fuel cell or combustion). This H2 combustion powertrain (including the tanks and filling procedure) is definitely more complex vs. making it EV.Hydrogen combustion is still…. combustion. Something that will become more apparent when H2 Combustion engines becomes more of a thing is that the air we breath is majority nitrogen. All engines are running hotter and hotter combustion temps to control unburned hydrocarbons, etc.. and the hotter you go on combustion temp (i.e. to make H2 combustion work) then you are still creating a lot of oxides of Nitrogen… regardless of what fuel you burn. It’s a balancing act, and H2 Combustion will have this issue. NOx traps can be added, but now your adding more cost and complexity. And NOx traps might not even be good enough to make this work with future emissions compliance.I’m not saying that everything needs to be an EV, Hydrogen (fuel cells) will have it’s place but that place will be for very heavy vehicles and not much below it. Think ships, freight trains, maybe long-haul trucks, construction/mining/ag equipment, etc..

Last edited 4 months ago by Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
4 months ago

Any way we can fix comments to show bulleted/numbered lists correctly? After submitting it just mashes them all together…it’s happened a few times.

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
4 months ago

Gonna put on my Hydrogen Evangelist hat here.

Smaller vehicles make more sense as an EV vs. Hydrogen (fuel cell or combustion).

Depends on the application. With current battery tech, your H2 vehicle will be substantially lighter for any given energy capacity. This is important for things like air vehicles or long range ground vehicles.

All engines are running hotter and hotter combustion temps to control unburned hydrocarbons, etc.. and the hotter you go on combustion temp (i.e. to make H2 combustion work) then you are still creating a lot of oxides of Nitrogen… regardless of what fuel you burn.

This isn’t true.

A- You don’t need to increase the temperature for H2 combustion to reduce unburned hydrocarbons, because you don’t have any carbons that need burning.

B- The driving factor of flame temperature is combustion stability, and since H2 + 02 combustion has a higher stability than CxHy + 02 reactions, you actually need a lower temperature to sustain H2 combustion. Critically, since H2 has approximately an order of magnitude lower ignition energy than gasoline, you can ignite H2 combustion at temperatures below 1950K, which is the point at which NOx generation rates increase exponentially. Gas engines really can’t do that.

C- And finally, most measurements of hydrogen combustion have a ~40% overstatement of their NOx emissions built in to the measurement, because the instrumentation and standards of NOx measurements assume hydrocarbon fuels.

Hydrogen (fuel cells) will have it’s place but that place will be for very heavy vehicles and not much below it. Think ships, freight trains, maybe long-haul trucks, construction/mining/ag equipment, etc..

You can add virtually all commercial aviation to that. EPA regs plus ICAO’s CORSIA plan basically means by 2035 new jets are going to need to be compliant with sustainable fuels or hydrogen. Airbus wants a H2 airliner in 2035. Boeing is more tight-lipped, but did a tech demo that burned H2, and probably more importantly just certified the first all composite H2 tank for space applications. In the start-up scene, the first hydrogen powered airliners are in testing already.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

None of which overcomes the physical drawbacks of hydrogen, namely its horrible energy to volume (currently only batteries are worse) nor its lack of natural abundance in a useful form. Every bit of hydrogen to be burned must come from somewhere and that somewhere is almost always fossil fuels, especially here as Kawasaki is one of the partners in the Australian coal to Japanese hydrogen project. Sure there are promises to sequester that carbon but AFAIK that’s not happened yet.

Unless Kawasaki has made a HUGE breakthroughs in combustion efficency and hydrogen storage (e.g. zeolites) this motorcycle will be heavy with limited range. I saw nothing in the slideshow to indictate such breakthroughs. To my eyes this is a greenwash, nothing more.

And unless those storage breakthroughs happen you can expect hydrogen in aviation to be limited to short range aircraft if it goes anywhere at all.

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
3 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

horrible energy to volume

Which is why no one uses ambient pressure H2 storage in transportation applications. It’s always pressurized, and usually cyrogenic and liquified. Hydrogen has an absurdly high energy density ratio, 4x that of gasoline, so despite needing a much more robust fuel tank H2 very quickly becomes more weight efficient than any hydrocarbon.

Every bit of hydrogen to be burned must come from somewhere and that somewhere is almost always fossil fuels

Because at the moment, the market for LH2 is small and there is little business case for green hydrogen on a massive scale. Happily, you can also make LH2 directly from water and electricity, which with a dose of renewable energy means you get to cut carbon emissions out of the fuel chain entirely.

And unless those storage breakthroughs happen you can expect hydrogen in aviation to be limited to short range aircraft if it goes anywhere at all.

Hydrogen went to the moon-50 years ago. There is no “breakthrough” needed- hydrogen tankage is a known engineering challenge that can be addressed by known engineering methods- double wall vacuum insulated tank, optimized for the application. Contrasted with the physics challenge of trying to cram ever more charge into any given battery chemistry, it’s small potatoes.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

Hydrogen’s energy density by volume IS horrible. Just look at the Toyota Mirai, it takes 35 GALLONS of hydrogen pressurised to 10k PSI to go 400 miles using a HFC with a peak thermal efficency of 63%. A Prius with a 41% TE efficent ICE engine has a range of 644 miles with a tank size of 11.3 gallons.

“Hydrogen has an absurdly high energy density ratio, 4x that of gasoline, so despite needing a much more robust fuel tank H2 very quickly becomes more weight efficient than any hydrocarbon.”

No it dosen’t. The three pressure tanks in the Mirai required to contain 35 gallons of 10k psi hydrogen weigh a combined 193 lbs. Altogether tank and hydrogen weigh about 205 lbs. A Prius gasoline tank weighs maybe 20 lbs and with the fuel weighs 89 lbs. And that weight of gasoline goes a lot further.

“Happily, you can also make LH2 directly from water and electricity, which with a dose of renewable energy means you get to cut carbon emissions out of the fuel chain entirely.”

And lose 60% or so of the energy along the way. Or you can stick that same renewable energy in a battery and only lose 10-15%.

Personally I’d rather not have to build 2-3x as many windmills to get the same benefit but hey, you do you.

“Hydrogen went to the moon-50 years ago.”

Sigh. The F1 engines of those Saturn rockets, the ones that were needed to do the heavy lifting used RP1, not hydrogen. So does SpaceX’s Falcon and other heavy lift rockets. The lunar lander used hydrazine, not hydrogen to get off the moon.

Hydrogen burns very clear with a faint blue color. If you see a rocket rising on a column of orange and yellow fire, it ain’t burning hydrogen.

“There is no “breakthrough” needed- hydrogen tankage is a known engineering challenge that can be addressed by known engineering methods- double wall vacuum insulated tank,
optimized for the application.”

Sir James Dewar invented the vacuum flask in 1892. No, its not good enough. It certainly wasn’t for the BMW H7 which lost all its LH2 after just sitting for a couple of weeks. You either have to actively cool stored LN2 or vent pressure, otherwise you create a bomb. Use it or lose it is not acceptable as a storage solution.

“Contrasted with the physics challenge of trying to cram ever more charge into any given battery chemistry, it’s small potatoes.”

That’s not true either. Even liquid hydrogen has a terrible volumetric energy density and even its weight is awful when the hardware needed to contain it is included. The reason is the nature of hydrogen. The hydrogen molecule is too big. That’s where zeolites come in. When hydrogen sticks to the surface of a zeolite its electron cloud shrinks considerably so you can pack in a LOT more gas even when accounting for the volume of the zeolite. The pressure is a lot less too, hundreds of PSI, not tens of thousands so the tanks can be much lighter.

Zeolites have been around a long time and the problems are the energy needed to unstuck the hydrogen and the low # of useable cycles. The first IMO might be solvable using waste heat but its the second thats the stickler. AFAIK no zeolites so far work more than a few cycles before their capacity drops precipitously. Research is ongoing so I was expecting Kawasaki to announce something but no, it’s just more of the same false hope.

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
3 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Hydrogen’s energy density by volume IS horrible.

And it’s density by mass is superior to any hydrocarbon.

Just look at the Toyota Mirai, it takes 35 GALLONS of hydrogen pressurised to 10k PSI to go 400 miles using a HFC with a peak thermal efficency of 63%. A Prius with a 41% TE efficent ICE engine has a range of 644 miles with a tank size of 11.3 gallons.

Using your numbers the rough calculation is: with the density of hydrogen gas at 10ksi being 21 kg/m^3, a full Mirai takes 2.8 kg of fuel. So it’s getting 142 miles/kg of fuel. Conversely the Prius’s 11.3 gallon tank, full of gas at STP weighs 68 lbs, or 30.8 kgs- good for 20.9 miles/kg. So despite it’s disaster of a tankage situation (three individual tanks is a terrible way to do it), the Mirai is going much further for any given mass of fuel.

And lose 60% or so of the energy along the way. Or you can stick that same renewable energy in a battery and only lose 10-15%.

Virtually all of those losses are compression losses. Hydrogen electrolysis is currently 75% efficient at the commercial scale, and 95% has been demonstrated in the lab. The problem is liquification of hydrogen, which is still stuck using the same process from the 1950s, running around 36 MJ/kg, when the theoretical minimum is around 13.8 MJ/kg. There has been no incentive to improve, so improvements have not been made. Also, while it’s a bit silly to debate the merits of vehicles yet to be designed when your energy density ratios are ~200:1 in favor of one option, there are some advantages to be exploited.

Sigh. The F1 engines of those Saturn rockets, the ones that were needed to do the heavy lifting used RP1, not hydrogen. So does SpaceX’s Falcon and other heavy lift rockets.

Double sigh. The J-2 engines that powered the second and third stages of the Saturn V, the engines that actually did the translunar injection burn, were LOX/LH2. The Delta IV uses LOX/LH2 for both stages. Rocket staging is a complicated business, and the choice of propellants is the result of a very detailed study of tradeoffs- I’ve been involved in them, LH2 is always an option.

Hydrogen burns very clear with a faint blue color. If you see a rocket rising on a column of orange and yellow fire, it ain’t burning hydrogen.

Well, no- this is simply wrong. At the temperatures involved in rocket engines hydrogen burns the same color as any other fuel- incandescent white, fading to yellow-orange in accordance with the immutable laws of emissions spectra. Watch a video of a Delta IV launch, it’s very much a column of yellow-orange fire. The clue that it’s burning LH2 is the absence of a big plume of white smoke (carbon soot) once it’s cleared the pad. If you are referring to the blue cone that surrounds a rocket exhaust plume as it exits the nozzle, that’s the result of some very complicated shockwave interactions and pressure changes that produce visible light called blue radiation. Hydrocarbon propellants produce them too, they just burn less transparently so they are harder to see as clearly.

Sir James Dewar invented the vacuum flask in 1892. No, its not good enough… zeolites…

Yes, this is an engineering challenge! How do we compress and tank hydrogen in the most efficient manner- there’s lots of good ideas and paths forward, but few of them have been tried at a commercial scale. Zeolites are one promising path forward, as are aerogels, though you will always want a double vacuum tank surrounding the exterior.

Contrast this with battery tech, which has billions of dollars in research thrown at it every year and still inches along with incremental improvements, and is still two orders of magnitude behind in energy density.

Last edited 3 months ago by Wuffles Cookie
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

And it’s density by mass is superior to any hydrocarbon.

So what? Weight does not matter for ground transport anywhere near as much as volume. That’s why gasoline is sold by the gallon or liter rather than by the pound or kilo, despite the latter being a better metric.

a full Mirai takes 2.8 kg of fuel

No. A Gen1 with 32.3 gallons of 10k tank storage uses 5kg to go 300 miles while a Gen2 with a larger tank volume of 35 gallons of 10k PSI storage can hold 5.3 kg or 5.5 kg depending on the efficiency of the fill:

“Hydrogen is dispensed by the kilogram, and it takes 5.5 kg to fill the 2021 Mirai’s tank.”

https://www.motortrend.com/reviews/2021-toyota-mirai-fcev-yearlong-test-review-verdict/

So now the Mirai’s range has dropped to 73 miles/kg which again is meaningless without the 193 lb (86kg) tanks to contain it. So factoring in the tank weight (which does not change with distance) the Mirai gets an abysmal 4.4 miles/kg vs the Prius’s 16.4 miles/kg.

Virtually all of those losses are compression losses.

No. The HFC in a Mirai is about 63% TE at its peak under light loads. That’s a significant loss and part of my estimate of 60% losses overall.

I’ve been involved in them, LH2 is always an option.

Not a very good option:

So why does NASA use liquid hydrogen as a fuel for its rockets if it is so difficult to work with and there are easier-to-handle alternatives such as methane or kerosene? One reason is that hydrogen is a very efficient fuel, meaning that it provides better “gas mileage” when used in rocket engines. However, the real answer is that Congress mandated that NASA continue to use space shuttle main engines as part of the SLS rocket program.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/09/years-after-shuttle-nasa-rediscovers-the-perils-of-liquid-hydrogen/

Well, no- this is simply wrong. At the temperatures involved in rocket engines hydrogen burns the same color as any other fuel- incandescent white, fading to yellow-orange in accordance with the immutable laws of emissions spectra. Watch a video of a Delta IV launch, it’s very much a column of yellow-orange fire.

OK, you are partially correct there. Delta IVs and perhaps others do burn yellow orange. I was thinking of the Shuttle’s main engines which had a very clear burn, a stark contrast to the column of flame made by the solid fuel boosters:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEb_7e66rVM

Different engines, different colors.

Contrast this with battery tech, which has billions of dollars in research thrown at it every year and still inches along with incremental improvements, and is still two orders of magnitude behind in energy density.

But batteries blow hydrogen away in energy EFFICIENCY which is much more important.

And if you keep insisting on only considering the weight of the hydrogen and not the tanks required to store it I get to ignore the weight of the battery and only consider the rest mass of the battery charge. By my friendly online units converter a 100kWh Tesla battery contains 3.6E8 joules of energy and yields 300 miles of range. That works out to a rest mass of 4 micrograms yielding a range of 250,000,000 miles/kg, therefore batteries have the best energy density by mass of all!

Last edited 3 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
3 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

So what? Weight does not matter for ground transport anywhere near as much as volume.

The MX-5 wept. The Lotus tore out it’s hair. A million truckers questioned all of the regulations about trailer weight. Somewhere, Isaac Newton softly whispers “F=ma”.

That’s why gasoline is sold by the gallon or liter rather than by the pound or kilo, despite the latter being a better metric.

I hate to be pedantic, but if you actually read those official little tamper-proof stickers on the gas pump that say “temperature corrected to 15 C / 60 F” and then a regulation in even smaller print, you will discover that you are actually buying is 6.16 lbs (+/-3% per the laws where I live) of gasoline, as that is what 1 gallon of gas weighs at the reference temp. Since gas has a volumetric expansion coefficient roughly 4x that of water, selling it by volume would open up a whole world of shenanigans.

So now the Mirai’s range has dropped to 73 miles/kg which again is meaningless without the 193 lb (86kg) tanks to contain it. So factoring in the tank weight (which does not change with distance) the Mirai gets an abysmal 4.4 miles/kg vs the Prius’s 16.4 miles/kg.

This only makes sense if, like in a rocket, you are discarding the fuel tank every time you use it- but that’s not how we measure fuel efficiency in road-going passenger vehicles, it’s distance/mass of fuel (again, volume at a ref temp=mass) in NA, and the inverse in Europe, not distance/mass of fuel plus some arbitrary portion of the fuel system. Instead what it shows is despite the terrible tank situation, the Mirai uses far less fuel mass to go any given distance than even a Prius.

I’ve been involved in them, LH2 is always an option.Not a very good option:

So why does NASA use liquid hydrogen as a fuel for its rockets if it is so difficult to work with and there are easier-to-handle alternatives such as methane or kerosene? One reason is that hydrogen is a very efficient fuel, meaning that it provides better “gas mileage” when used in rocket engines. However, the real answer is that Congress mandated that NASA continue to use space shuttle main engines as part of the SLS rocket program.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/09/years-after-shuttle-nasa-rediscovers-the-perils-of-liquid-hydrogen/

Mmmm… Ars Technica, the Readers Digest of Hacker News, chocked full of all of the lukewarm psuedo-knowledge you need to rake in that sweet, sweet reddit karma. Hmm, as the senior space editor I’m sure the author has some aerospace background to back up… oh. Astronomy (from UT, excellent program!) and Journalism. Certified Meteorologist. Look, I’m sure the guy can tell you everything you want to know about stellar nebulae formation, and just how badly that incoming hailstorm is going to fuck up your roof, but this article is painful, painful proof that when it comes to rocket engines, he has absolutely no goddamn clue what he is talking about. It provides “better gas mileage?” Nope, psyche, it was those idiots in Congress! (Okay, I agree with the last part of that statement).

The quip about “gas mileage” implies a linear relationship with efficiency, since that’s how it works with cars. Rockets are rather different beasts, and governed by the very-much-not-linear Tsiolkovsky equation. RS-25 vacuum Isp is 452.3 s, Merlin 1D is 310 s. The Merlin 1D is certainly solid engineering, and more than capable for the job it needs to do, but it’s Isp is barely any better than those F-1 engines you mentioned earlier (304 s). Congress wanted a moon rocket, have already spent a shitload of money on developing a goddamn hot-rod of one for the space shuttle, which by the way is fully man-rated, and was 100% justified in asking NASA to use it. Does cryogenic hydrogen have it’s issues? Ab-so-fucking-lutely it does, but these can all be dealt with by proper engineering protocols- after all we did it in the 1960s. Expecting NASA to at least match that seems a fucking low bar, and asking them to do better really isn’t either. I will happily criticize pretty much any aspect about the Artemis cluster-F, but the choice of the RS-25 is one of the very few rational decisions in it.

But batteries blow hydrogen away in energy EFFICIENCY which is much more important.

Efficiency of what? Distance traveled / energy? It’s no where close to true for anything in aerospace, not true for heavy transport like boats or trains, and at this exact moment, maybe slightly true for passenger vehicles, depending on the tradeoffs.

Last edited 3 months ago by Wuffles Cookie
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

“The MX-5 wept. The Lotus tore out it’s hair. A million truckers questioned all of the regulations about trailer weight. Somewhere, Isaac Newton softly whispers “F=ma”.”

As far as fuel goes yes. 15 gallons of gasoline would weigh maybe 90 lbs in a Prius vs 12 lbs of hydrogen for a difference of 78 lbs. That’s hardly worth getting worked up about. Factor in the weight of the tank and even that trivial advantage vanishes.

OTOH try replacing the 11.3 gallon gas tank of a Prius with a pressure vessel needed to store enough hydrogen to yield the same 644 mile range. That would be a total tank volume of about 56 gallons of internal volume. Have fun fitting that.

“This only makes sense if, like in a rocket, you are discarding the fuel tank every time you use it”

It absolutely makes sense if the tank is specific to the fuel. If as you say the fuel tank does not matter batteries win by far.

“Mmmm… Ars Technica, the Readers Digest of Hacker News”

Something, something, something…

“(Okay, I agree with the last part of that statement).”

Good, because that was my point.

“Does cryogenic hydrogen have it’s issues? Ab-so-fucking-lutely it does, but these can all be dealt with by proper engineering protocols- after all we did it in the 1960s.”

Nevemind those were disposable rockets and done with a budget of billions of dollars.

As the article you dissed pointed out those “proper engineering protocols” were to tether the rockets right up to launch to keep the hydrogen cold and topped off. Tethering your car to the hydrogen station till you need it isn’t a realistic solution.

“Efficiency of what?”

Use of energy. As I’ve already pointed out even existing batteries are far more efficient as an energy storage medium than hydrogen.

As fun as this exchange is I am still far from convinced hydrogen has any hope whatsoever as a practical energy carrier for transportation, especially renewable hydrogen, Much more so for the dream of making enough hydrogen to meet any significant amount of the worlds transport needs from surplus renewable energy.

Hydrogen may have a niche use in heavy trucking, maybe, just maybe even in short range, low volume aviation but not in cars, motorcycles, most trucks, trains, most commercial aviation or shipping.

Feel free to show your reasons why I am wrong.
Show why hydrogen is the better solution than batteries, natural gas, propane, alcohols or grid power. Lets see something other than the usual marketing bullshit, uninformed hype, greenwashing, cherry picking and pinkie promises.

Last edited 3 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
3 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

most commercial aviation

This is actually the first place you will see it happen. ICAO and FAA/EASA/pick-your-regulator regulations regarding emissions get really, really strict in 2035, you are basically forbidden from designing a new airplane that has net positive carbon emissions. This in turn means there are basically two paths forward- carbon neutral sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and hydrogen. Any new airplane design at that point will have to use one of these two options. While SAF is the easiest to work with, it’s extremely expensive (something like 6 times the price of standard Jet A1) and the infrastructure upgrades necessary to drive the price down are suspect investments as the world de-carbonizes. On the other hand, LH2, while more difficult to deal with, has a number of performance advantages that make it an attractive option. Also, unlike ground transportation airliners are limited to fueling at a comparatively small number of known locations which already have a large infrastructure base for fueling operations, which means in-situ hydrogen generation is a much easier investment decision to make, as it becomes simply part of the operating budget of the airport itself.

Why not batteries? Simple- energy density. Let’s take the current state of the art- Formula E. Their batteries have an impressive 149 Wh/kg energy density in an extremely demanding application. This is unfortunately less than 1/200th the energy density of LH2 (33.3 kWh/kg), and that number would drop considerably further once you include aviation-grade safety systems (Formula E batteries can catch fire without much safety risk. Your airliner battery catching fire over the ocean kills hundreds of people).

With current battery tech, you can just about make a short range (100-200 miles), 8-10 passenger puddle jumper work with batteries, and there are some in testing. But the energy consumption requirements of an airplane in cruise vs mass go as the doubling of a square (not quite as bad as a rocket, but still bad), which means even relatively small increases in mass to carry more PAX have absolutely crippling effects on range.

I could keep talking about the other categories, but I’m kind of tired of this. You don’t have to believe me, and that’s fine. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself on a hydrogen powered airliner or in a hydrogen fueled cab in the not to distant future.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

Thank you for your reply. Its clear you are much more optimistic than I am on the future of hydrogen although I am still puzzled as to why given all hydrogen’s as of yet unresolved shortcomings. What you have said here is that the move forward is all regulation, with no significant technical progress. That is a recipe for disappointment if not disaster..

“While SAF is the easiest to work with, it’s extremely expensive (something like 6 times the price of standard Jet A1) and the infrastructure upgrades necessary to drive the price down are suspect investments as the world de-carbonizes.”

SAF is the only potential solution I see here that can provide renewable energy storage for long range and high speed aviation. Even at 6x the price of Jet A1 I don’t see any way to make enough of it to make a dent.

I expect the trickle of any such fuels produced will be earmarked for the world’s military so good bye commercial aviation (except for the 0.1%), hello electric high speed rail and (hopefully) nuclear powered ocean liners for civilians.

“Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself on a hydrogen powered airliner”

Unless I had won the megagiga $$$$$$$$$$ lottery jackpot needed to purchase just a ticket on such an airliner that’s not going to happen.

“or in a hydrogen fueled cab in the not to distant future.”

Given the complete and utter failure of hydrogen in transport to date I would be very surprised indeed. Given the rise of BEVs I will however be not surprised whatsoever to find that cab powered by batteries.

“I could keep talking about the other categories, but I’m kind of tired of this.”

Too bad. Thanks for the good times.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
3 months ago

Hydrogen combustion motorcycle is a new concept as far as I’m aware. Plus, who says it has to be all new? Do you bitch at every new concept car?

A. Barth
A. Barth
4 months ago

It has hydrogen buttocks.

Who Knows
Who Knows
4 months ago

I wonder if an optional extra will be an oxygen cylinder, and a small rocket engine that will drain the hydrogen tanks in a matter of seconds. In all seriousness though, I’ll be curious to see how they can deal with the difficulties of H2 combustion in a small engine- preignition and combustion stability, power density, NOx emissions (stoich or lean with aftertreatment, or super lean?). Maybe the high flame speed of H2 will help with a small, high strung engine? It seems like a small, high performance H2 engine would be a difficult thing to do, but at least fuel economy probably isn’t a big concern.

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
4 months ago

Perfect maker for this since they already have the name H2.

Bearddevil
Bearddevil
4 months ago

Hydrogen production and storage is still a technology and infrastructure that needs a whole lot more research and development effort before it is practical on the scale it would need to be to work as a significant part of the transportation picture. It would be nice if there were more large-scale research being done on this, but…

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago

Internal combustion is the viable way to use hydrogen at this time. Fuel cell manufacturing on a per kW basis is cost prohibitive, and it is telling that fuel cell powered vehicles still require a battery pack to power the electric motor(s). ICE still requires a special plating inside the engine(usually nickel) to prevent embrittlement while burning the hydrogen, and there will still be unwanted emissions of various sorts from the tail pipe, but at least it doesn’t require gasoline.

Now producing and storing the hydrogen entails significant energy losses, and there is the issue of lack of fueling infrastructure. But at least this is being attempted, and going forward, this may be how the ICE retains viability decades from now.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Yeah, I’m not at all sold on the viability of hydrogen as a fuel from a production and general infrastructure perspective, by that I mean, I don’t think any of that is ever going to be solvable for mass adoption. But, if free hydrogen fuel magically rained down from the sky and into a service station storage tank, yeah, sure, the actual end user experience is fine.

There’s also that HyBlend hydrogen/natural gas blended stuff out there, which is either a more practical way to work hydrogen into the energy mix or another ethanol-style boondoggle, depending on your perspective

Bearddevil
Bearddevil
4 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Why not both? It can definitely be both.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

“But, if free hydrogen fuel magically rained down from the sky and into a service station storage tank, yeah, sure, the actual end user experience is fine.”

The condensation temperature of hydrogen at 1 ATM is −423.17 °F so I’d say that experience would be anything but “fine”.

:’p

Last edited 4 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

“and it is telling that fuel cell powered vehicles still require a battery pack to power the electric motor(s).”

How is that so much worse than an ICE hybrid?

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Build cost.

Even in mass production, per continuous kW, hydrogen fuel cells in mass production would be about $150-200.

The only way to make a fuel cell car economical to build would be to use a very powerful battery and a small fuel cell stack, and limit the car’s top speed based upon that fuel cell stack’s continuous horsepower.

A 100 kW fuel cell, just for the fuel cell stack, if mass produced, is going to cost $15,000+. As a one-off prototype, such a stack can go into the 7-figures quickly. Like batteries, fuel cells also wear out, although the service life varies widely depending upon the peak operating temperature reached, and being much less efficient than batteries, they can quickly produce heat which requires a cooling system(more cost).

Battery cars are currently a much more economical solution on the whole.

That said, I’d like to see other fuel cell types explored. The university I attended developed an ethanol-powered fuel cell. I wish a commercial version of that were available, because that would be PERFECT for my electric/pedal “bicycle”/microcar. With the next body shell, I’d only need 1 horsepower or so to be able to maintain freeway speeds without drawing down my battery. And if produced, it would be inexpensive enough to actually use, unlike something required to push a 3,000+ lb car down the road.

Another one I’d like to see is a biodiesel fuel cell. I’ve also read white papers of prototype fuel cells 20 years ago made to run on gasoline or petroleum diesel, which was one of the motivations for taxpayer money being allocated toward development of FCVs back in the early 2000s(the then current administration was not keen on actual alternatives to gasoline being available, but had to look like it was doing something to ween us off of fossil fuel dependency).

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

“The only way to make a fuel cell car economical to build would be to use a very powerful battery and a small fuel cell stack, and limit the car’s top speed based upon that fuel cell stack’s continuous horsepower.”

That’s not so different from a REX equipped BMW i3. And that’s fine for a lot of use cases.

“That said, I’d like to see other fuel cell types explored”

Me too, particularly NG ones. I’ve long thought the Mirai would be a much better car using that fuel rather than hydrogen.

OTOH I’ve also thought the Mirai would be even better by replacing the FC with the drive train out of a Camry hybrid and running it on CNG.

Last edited 4 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

One interesting idea that I’ve never seen or heard of being done would be to use both a small ~50 kW ICE coupled to a manual transmission and an EV drive system with a small < 20 kW fuel cell stack and ~5-8 kWh battery powering it. You could run everything both ICE and EV system off of H2, have a short all-electric plug-in range, and using a very power-dense battery pack coupled with a modern EV drive system, have the peak power for rapid acceleration(could go into the megawatt territory with off the shelf tech, today), while the small ICE provides the continuous power to keep the car moving at high speeds and a base level of acceleration should the battery pack end up drained.

This would probably be cheaper to produce than a pure FCEV system, has the advantage of being able to be run purely on battery power for short trips(H2 is expensive to produce and to use on a per mile basis), BUT you’d have the efficiency advantage of fuel cells over ICE for most of the driving done, the ICE available for whenever the EV motor couldn’t get enough juice from the fuel cell stack, the car would never stall thanks to the electric motor making it possible to just put the manual in top gear and drive it like an automatic, it would all run from the same fuel tank, and the advantage of fast refueling times wherever the hydrogen is available. Plus it would be trivially easy to make such a vehicle AWD, with the electric motor powering the rear wheels and gasoline ICE powering the front.

Last edited 4 months ago by Toecutter
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

All of that would work even better powered by NG or propane.

My dream is to have such a car but with a somewhat bigger battery, V2X capacity as well as gas and coolant jacks to supply the FC with shore gas and to use the waste heat for home HVAC and hot water. Such a vehicle would be a Godsend during winter power outages. Good for camping too.

“BUT you’d have the efficiency advantage of fuel cells over ICE for most of the driving done”

Hmm. Given how FC tend to be most efficient at low loads and how expensive they are I think an ICE could be a strong alternative. FCs are usually 63% TE at best. ICE are already at 40% TE in production cars, MB and others have research engines at 50% TE and Mazda was claiming to have hit 56% TE with their Skyactiv3 tech several years ago. ICE also tend to be much more flexible about what you can burn in them. I think the ICE can be kept in the sweet spot with cylinder deactivation, hit and miss etc which might not be music to the drivers ear but if its a REX maybe it doesn’t matter so much if it sounds a bit odd.

Last edited 4 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
4 months ago

… Turbo I6? Gas and hydrogen?
Gimme? Pls?
Gimme now.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

Can I haz propane and NG?

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago

If it does come to California, any bets on whether a certain semi-retired talk show host winds up as launch customer?

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
4 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I would love to see Wendy Williams rip one of these around. That is the semi-retired talk show host you were refencing right?

Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour
4 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Not sure how he’d get Carpool Karaoke to work on that.

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