car news

Motorcycle with hydrogen technology in the works

May 27, 2023

Cars that run on hydrogen are already on sale. Those are the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo. A fuel cell converts hydrogen using oxygen from the outside air into electricity for electric propulsion. All that remains is water, which comes out of the exhaust in the form of vapor.

Hydrogen technology and research

Will something like this also fit a motorcycle? Japanese brands Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda and Yamaha have asked themselves that question and also appealed to Toyota because of their expertise with hydrogen technology. It led to the creation of the HySE (Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology) consortium. A partnership in which experts from the brands are putting their heads together to map out the possibilities with hydrogen for two-wheelers, among other things.

Gasoline engine on hydrogen

For now, the sights seem to be set primarily on retrofitting regular internal combustion engines. So the well-known engine with cylinders that burn gasoline. How can you make it suitable for burning hydrogen? Nice though, because that way you keep the familiar motorcycle sound and riding experience.

Fuel cell tricky and cunning

The reason for looking at internal combustion engines also seems practical. A fuel cell simply does not yet exist in the format for a motorcycle. And with this technology, you also have to see a battery and electric motor crammed away somewhere. Complicated and expensive that is. In any case, more expensive than modifying an existing internal combustion engine.

The necessary bumps

Still, according to the new HySE club, there are bumps in the road ahead. Application of hydrogen presents technical challenges, especially when used in an internal combustion engine. The rapid ignition time and wide ignition spectrum results in unstable combustion. Limited fuel tank capacity in motorcycles also poses a challenge.


Within HySE, knowledge and expertise from all members are valuable in meeting all these challenges. Among other things, Suzuki is conducting a partial study on the functionality, performance and reliability of hydrogen engines. Other members are focusing on exploring hydrogen tank system requirements and hydrogen tanks for small vehicles. It also considers the necessary auxiliary equipment required for a safe fuel supply system from the fuel tank to the hydrogen injectors at the cylinders.

Hydrogen Kawasaki

Of particular note is the study of a Kawasaki Supercharged Ninja H2 running on hydrogen. The H2’s gasoline-powered block has been transformed to hydrogen injection. Direct injection it is and the hydrogen comes from pressurized cylinders placed in the back of the side trunks. It is an experimental motorcycle developed as part of the search for future “clean” fuel types that HySE is thus now building on.