Table of contents:
- Second patent, same hydrogen bike
- There is technology for electric motorcycles, but it is not enough yet
- Why a hydrogen motorcycle?
2023 Author: Nicholas Abramson | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-09-01 00:14
Almost three exact months ago we were talking about a leak that detailed the mechanical scheme of a Honda apparently powered by hydrogen. In that sketch we saw the components of the motorcycle uncovered and now what has come to light is a second patent, of which it looks like the same bike but now with all the bodywork.
It is a naked-style zero emissions motorcycle, without fairing, in which a hydrogen tank is hidden under the subframe and tail assembly that would be used to produce electricity and power a electric motor that drives the rear wheel through a cardan shaft.
Second patent, same hydrogen bike
Otherwise it looks like a fairly conventional motorcycle. It is bulky due to its electrical configuration, but sports a muscular style, with a perimeter chassis, conventional fork, rear monoshock in lateral position and a double overlapping headlight possibly with LED technology.
It is relatively common for brands to patent ideas that may or may not later make it into production. Factory engineers are continuously working and each firm protects its ideas against competition registering patents on which they want to work or simply cover their backs and that others do not steal the idea from them.
In the case of Honda it is second patent leaking in a few months on the same idea, which seems to indicate that the brand with the golden wing has a notable interest in the project.
There is technology for electric motorcycles, but it is not enough yet
For large manufacturers there is a fundamental premise that is at the same time twofold so as not to launch electric motorcycles on the market. In the first place, they cannot afford to launch models that do not comply with a minimum autonomy that can match your internal combustion models.
On the other hand, another similar issue is the weight, and is that today getting a battery with a reasonable autonomy would mean adding an excessive weight that would compromise the behavior of any motorcycle. Some like BMW have dared with a model in which the behavior is not so decisive, such as the scooter C Evolution whose weight is 274 kg.
It is a question of brand image; until they have solvent models they prefer to beware of launching products that customers may understand as undeserving of the brand in question. For example, Honda already has electric and hybrid models like the Honda PCX that they presented in 2017, but they have reserved them for the less demanding Asian market.
Why a hydrogen motorcycle?
That Honda is working on a hydrogen motorcycle project is no accident. A decade ago, in 2008, the Japanese manufacturer launched the Honda FCX Clarity, becoming the first manufacturer to offer a hydrogen-powered car.
Subsequently, many other manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon of fuel cell engines such as Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Kia, Hyundai … But the reality is that those who have been most concerned about promoting alternative engines have been the Japanese for a question of survival.
The natural disasters that regularly affect Japan and especially the 2011 tsunami and the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant put on the table the excessive dependence of the population on energy supply. During the last two years we are seeing many proposals that see cars not only as means of transport, but also as energy producers / accumulators to supply a home in the event of a supply drop.
That is why Honda, Toyota and Nissan, three of the great Japanese brands, have partnered. The Japanese are convinced of developing a technology that today represents more disadvantages than disadvantages, but in which they trust to be able to work to make this technological unicorn of clean energies a accessible model for the entire market.
In addition, among its advantages is that fuel cell engines are electric vehicles but do not require a plug, removing the psychological barrier of having to charge your batteries for hours. It is enough to go to a hydropower plant (which currently there are not too many, the goal is 20 in Spain in 2020) and refuel in a couple of minutes.
By cons, the hydrogen engine has three disadvantages Today. The first is that although hydrogen is the most abundant element of the periodic table on planet Earth not given separately, but as a composite. There is no lake or mine to go to get some hydrogen. Extracting hydrogen from water requires a lot of energy; So much so that it exceeds the energy produced by the same amount of hydrogen that has been extracted.
The second downside is storage, which is really tricky. Hydrogen has the ability to be a Harry Houdini, come on, which is very difficult to prevent it from escaping of the tanks in which we intend to store it, which together with the high pressure at which it must be stored implies very heavy storage systems.
Finally we have an ecological paradox. And yes, hydrogen is a clean energy since its combustion only produces water vapor and that is fantastic. The tricky thing comes when we take into account the type of energy that has been used to produce hydrogen that the vehicles consume. If it is all obtained through renewable sources, perfect; If renewable energy has not been used then we have a very clean (and expensive) vehicle that consumes hydrogen obtained with dirty energy.
In 2011 Suzuki introduced a Hydrogen powered burgman. Although it would not reach the market until a long time later (and only in some countries), it was the first commercial hydrogen motorcycle. Now Honda wants to step up and offer a viable alternative to combustion bikes with decent range, reasonable power, well-behaved and more attractive than the Burgman.
If anyone can power hydrogen on two wheels, that is Honda, although Toyota has already announced that in 2025 they will market a fuel cell car at the price of a hybrid. The race has started.
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