Mazda: Rotary Will Live On As Hydrogen-Powered Range Extender For EVs

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
mazda rotary will live on as hydrogen powered range extender for evs

A report in the Nikkei claims that Mazda’s rotary engine will live on as a range extender for electric vehicles using hydrogen power for the Wankel engine.

“We should be able to make the most of the rotary engine’s advantages, such as the ease of making it compact and safe,” President Takashi Yamanouchi said.

No time frame was given for the production of such a vehicle, though Just-Auto claims that it will be offered via a leasing program in 2013. Yamanouchi also has ambitious plans for Mazda, hoping to turn a 1.3 billion dollar loss into a $125.5 million profit this fiscal year.

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  • Eggsalad Eggsalad on Jun 07, 2012

    Most stationary generators run on diesel. The reason being that a Diesel engine can be optimized to run very efficiently at a specific RPM. If I was putting an engine in a car for the sole purpose of generating electricity, there is no question it would be a Diesel.

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    • K5ING K5ING on Jun 08, 2012

      @usnidc Diesel is the way to go, rotary or not.

  • Herm Herm on Jun 08, 2012

    I believe BMW was planning on a tiny wankel range extender for the i series of electric cars.. apparently those plans (and the cars) have fallen by the wayside.

  • NMGOM NMGOM on Jun 08, 2012

    raph, I was really excited about H2 used in ICE-mode, because that would create a zero-emissions vehicle while preserving the "vrooom" factor and the driving characteristics of conventional cars. H2 can be harvested from the sea by hydrolysis of water, powered by wind turbines along shorelines. I doubt that our planet will be running out of seawater anytime soon. But H2 is low-density stuff. If you store it in more concentrated liquid form (LH2), as with the BMW "Hydrogen 7" experimental cars, then boil-off is an issue. This means H2 could accumulate in a closed garage by venting from the explosive situation. And if you don't use your LH2 car for a week, it may simply run out of fuel by evaporation. If you store H2 as a compressed gas, then that's OK, but the tanks required would fill up most of any boot (trunk) space if you wanted to get a reasonable range, say 250-300 miles. So, the problems may not only be infrastructure related. Certainly, the greater efficiency of fuel cells (H2FC) does allow a lower amount of H2 to be stored on the vehicle, but then H2FC is really just a VERY expensive version of the electric car....which we know is no fun at all: e.g., Honda Clarity. (Fuel cells are not cheap, and the car would weigh more than with H2-ICE, all else constant.) What we really need is for someone to invent a way to store H2 in an ultra-condensed, non-boil-off mode that can be used in ICE's. Any takers? ---------

  • Danwat1234 Danwat1234 on Jun 11, 2012

    What a waste of R&D, just use a small 2-cylinder atkinson cycle or HCCI cycle piston engine. It takes a lot of energy to make hydrogen and the infrastructure is not here in the US, and I don't want it to be because the oil companies would obviously have control over it. Stick with electric drivetrains with efficient gasoline or diesel generators.