Water Vapor Instead of Exhaust?
Kawasaki is going in hard on alternative fuel technologies. Just in the past year, the Japanese bike maker revealed its first electric machine—the Elektrode balance bike for kids. More impressively, Kawasaki also pulled the curtains on two grown-up electric motorcycles, a Z model and a Ninja-style bike. The company has also rolled out a prototype hybrid motorcycle—a potential future Prius of the motorcycling world, perhaps?
But the electric bikes aren’t the most fascinating thing Kawasaki is tinkering with. The company has revealed a dual-injected, supercharged Ninja H2 combustion engine that uses compressed hydrogen to reduce emissions. This isn’t an actual hydrogen engine, as it still burns conventional gasoline, but Kawasaki says it’s a stepping stone on the path to a purely hydrogen-fueled motorcycle combustion engine.
The hydrogen engine program is part of Kawasaki’s Go with Green Power initiative that aims to achieve carbon neutrality within a “strategic time frame.” It’s easy to see why the company would go for hydrogen. Burning hydrogen in a combustion engine doesn’t produce harmful emissions—it instead turns into water vapor. In the future, we might be riding giant humidifiers.
Kawasaki isn’t the only bike company working on hydrogen engines. Yamaha has teamed up with Toyota to develop a hydrogen-burning V-8 engine. Although this engine is for trucks and sports cars, the technology (should it be successful) can also be applied to motorcycles further down the line.