Mazda eyes hydrogen engines

Researchers at Japanese carmaker Mazda think cars will in future run on a water component – hydrogen.


“We have to prepare for sustainable zoom-zoom,” Mazda executive Nobuhiro Hayama said on Monday.

“We have to make a link with the hydrogen society of the future.”

Mazda uses the term zoom-zoom in its marketing for fun driving, or “the exhilaration and liberation that come from experiencing sheer motion.”

Hayama told the Nikkei Automotive Conference in Tokyo that the advantage of hydrogen fuel was that it could be used in internal combustion engines.

There are technical problems to overcome. Hydrogen fuel cells use platinum for catalysts and supplies of platinum are limited.

A hydrogen fuel cell is efficient but Hayama said a hydrogen engine was more practical because no change was needed in the materials and manufacturing process of engines.

However, because hydrogen ignites at lower temperatures than diesel or gasoline, there is a risk of abnormal combustion. This, he said, could be solved by using rotary engines.

A hydrogen rotary engine could also use gasoline as fuel, so would need two fuel tanks, though.

Hayama said Mazda was developing the hydrogen engine with Ford, which has a controlling 34 percent stake in it.

Germany’s BMW is also working on hydrogen technology.

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