Hydrogen and the rotary engine
Mazda has developed a hydrogen engine that generates power by burning hydrogen. It emits only water vapor as exhaust which makes it a very clean power source.
Mazda succeeded in commercializing the world’s first hydrogen rotary engine when it started leasing the RX-8 Hydrogen RE in February 2006. The vehicle provides a natural driving feel without sacrificing handling or acceleration, and offers enjoyable driving without pumping out harmful exhaust gases. The marriage of hydrogen and the rotary engine has made it possible to realize an “ultimate eco-car.”
Development of the hydrogen rotary engine
Hydrogen is extremely flammable, requiring far less energy to ignite than gasoline. Due to this property, hydrogen in an ordinary reciprocating engine is very susceptible to abnormal combustion during the intake stroke due to the high temperature of the spark plugs. Because of this, achieving ideal combustion becomes extremely difficult.
In the rotary engine, the intake chamber is separated from the combustion chamber. This minimizes the risk of abnormal combustion, and makes the rotary engine very suitable for burning hydrogen fuel. In addition, by implementing Mazda’s direct injection technology, the hydrogen rotary engine achieves even better combustion.
Special features of hydrogen rotary engine
By using Mazda’s unique rotary engine technology for the hydrogen rotary engine, we have achieved a harmony between cleanliness and an exhilarating driving experience. Leveraging our long experience in developing combustion engines, we have created a hydrogen engine just as easy to use and reliable as a gasoline engine. Our gasoline rotary engine does not require much modification to equip it for hydrogen fuel, so it can be produced at relatively small cost.
Mazda’s hydrogen rotary engine employs a dual-fuel system that allows it to run on either hydrogen or gasoline. This system not only relieves the driver from the worry of running out of hydrogen, it also makes the car far more convenient because it can travel long distances to areas without a hydrogen station.