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Mazda Leases Two More Hydrogen-Gasoline Bi-Fuel Vehicles

Mazda has leased two more of its bi-fuel hydrogen-gasoline RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicles (earlier post), one each going to the government authorities of the City of Hiroshima and Hiroshima Prefecture. (Mazda is based in Hiroshima.)

In March, Mazda announced its first two such leases, those going to two corporate customers: Idemitsu Kosan Company and Iwatani international Corporation. (Earlier post.)

The rotary-engine RX-8 Hydrogen RE model features a bi-fuel system that allows the driver to select either gasoline or hydrogen fuel with the flick of a switch.

The RENESIS Hydrogen RE incorporates an electronically-controlled hydrogen gas-injector system. The system draws air from the side port during the intake cycle and uses dual hydrogen injectors in each of the engine’s twin rotor housings to directly inject hydrogen into the intake chambers.

Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE
  Gasoline Hydrogen
Engine RENESIS hydrogen rotary
Power 154 kW (206 hp) 80 kW (107 hp)
Torque 222 Nm 140 Nm
Fuel tank 61 liters (16 gallons US) 110 liters@35 Mpa (350 bar)
Range 549 km (341 miles) 100 km (62.1 miles)

Mazda plans to lease up to ten such vehicles with other fleet customers, including local governments and energy companies, by the end of 2006, and intends to continue its independent development of rotary engine-powered hydrogen vehicles.



Of all of the approaches, I cannot fathom why this is even being explored. Same car, but with half the power and 1/5 the range? Yeah, I'm sure they can store a little more hydrogen if they tried, and maybe add a turbo to increase power, but how much of that gap can they really close? With so many better options out there, why is this even being entertained? I'm all for keeping our options open, but this is definitely something that can put a bad taste in someone's mouth - I see it doing more harm than good, as far as the public's perception of alternative fuel vehicles.

Roger Pham

Good question that u r asking, Angelo. First of all, Hydrogen is renewable and very clean. You can generate it at home or get it via the natural gas pipeline into your house. Honda is selling home compression and refill unit for natural gas and hydrogen, as well as hydrogen production unit as well. For daily commute, you would refill your smallish hydrogen tank with home brew hydrogen, which should be enough for 2-3 days' worth of commute, petroleum-free! But, since hydrogen is not available at the gas station as yet, and if you wanna drive out of town, then you'll have to shell out precious dollars for very pricey petrol these days. In a rotary engine, good luck, as these Wankels aren't known for efficiency. But, have you heard of using small amount of hydrogen with gasoline can boost efficiency 30-40%? Apparently, hydrogen greatly improve combustion efficiency of gasoline, and since the Wankel has poor combustion efficiency at part throttle, this would be great to save your hard-earned dollars at the pump. Why half the power? Probably because very lean stoichiometric amount of hydrogen is used to maximize combustion efficiency, keep in mind that the Wankel wedge-shape combustion chamber does not promote combustion efficiency at part-throttle. So, the power is down, but the efficiency will be up. When utilizing expensive Hydrogen gas which is also a greenhouse gas, you don't wanna release unburned hydrogen into the atmosphere. A Prius engine with Atkinson cycle engine can much better utilize this flexible fuel approach by raising compression ratio when hydrogen will be used, thus maintaining power when running on hydrogen gas.
So, Madza has the right idea of developing a home-filling hydrogen-gasoline hybrid to curb petroleum dependency, just in case affordable battery for Plugged-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle won't materialize soon enough. This will accelerate the "Hydrogen Economy" by by-passing the chicken-or-the-egg problem of lack of filling station infrastructure for hydrogen.
Now then, let's try to put this hydrogen-gasoline hybrid scheme in a 2008 Prius with 94 mpg-economy, and suddenly, even high-cost hydrogen fuel will be affordable!!! Why bother with expensive fuel cell cars that will require expensive hydrogen filling infrastructure when 94 mpe hydrogen-gasoline flex fuel vehicle is available at affordable price?

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