Not all cars have as main goal to get from A to B as efficiently as possible. If that were the case, Lamborghini would build passenger vans with three cylinders. For that reason, we think there is quite a place in the sustainable future for hydrogen engines. Producing hydrogen is not the most efficient way of dealing with energy and burning the stuff certainly does not provide the best return – but it is beautiful technology.
That is why we are happy with this news. According to the Japanese Bestcar Mazda is still working on a Wankel engine that runs on hydrogen. Most car brands that focus on hydrogen opt for a fuel cell. Hydrogen is converted into electricity, which drives an electric motor. The Wankel engine uses the hydrogen in the same way as gasoline. Exact details of any application are scarce. The new engine should be unveiled within three years.
Why a Wankel engine on hydrogen works well
Hydrogen behaves unpredictably, making it difficult to use in a conventional combustion engine. So-called ‘heat spots’ in the engine cause hydrogen to ignite at undesirable moments. Due to its special construction, a Wankel engine has no ‘heat spots’. This would make the Wankel engine very suitable for running on hydrogen. According to the sources of Bestcar Mazda would put an electric turbo on the Wankel engine.
Not the first time
Mazda was already driving hydrogen Wankel engines in Japan in 2004. You could even lease one there. The converted RX-8s could run on both hydrogen and petrol. Later they also built the technology in the Mazda 5. Mazda’s first hydrogen-powered Wankel engine dates back to 1991. In the 1990s there were even Mazda MX-5s with hydrogen Wankel engines. In addition to fuel cell cars, Toyota is also working on a racing car that ignites hydrogen.
Also read: The disadvantages of hydrogen cars
Mazda does not want to release anything about the new Wankel engine at the moment. The new Wankel engine can be used as an aggregate (or range extender) in electric cars, but of course also as a separate power source. In an ideal world, the brand would still come up with the beautiful Mazda RX-9 – preferably with a Wankel engine, rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. Although that is probably not a viable proposition from a financial point of view. Below you get a taste of what such a Wankel engine sounds like.