Looks like a motorcycle, sounds like a bicycle.
A British firm showed off a hydrogen-powered motorbike to the USA Tuesday. Intelligent Energy hopes to begin selling it late next year. It could be priced at about $6,000 once mass production of about 10,000 units begins, the company says.
While attention has been focused on developing pollution-free hydrogen-powered cars, Intelligent Energy and some others have turned instead to two-wheeled transportation.
The firm, which is relocating to Los Angeles from London, says the motorcycle's fuel cell develops the equivalent of eight horsepower, good for speeds up to 50 miles an hour. The cycle has a range of about 100 miles on a tank of fuel. Currently, a hydrogen fill-up would cost about $3, says the cycle's project director, Andy Eggleston.
The fuel cell itself can be pulled out and carried around like a small suitcase. The company says it foresees one day being able to use the same fuel cell for different applications, such as a boat.
Besides simplicity - fewer moving parts than in a conventional motorcycle - the hydrogen-powered motorcyclist hears little more than the sound of tires spinning over the road or trail.
"The total silence in the countryside is fantastic. It's kind of like riding a horse," designer Ben Watson says.
Ken Kurani, a research engineer at the University of California at Davis, says Honda and some other companies have been working on hydrogen-powered scooters.
Zero-emission cycles might be "a nice developmental step" that would be faster to market than cars, Kurani says, but they are dogged by the same problem of few hydrogen filling stations.
California, where Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has committed to building a "hydrogen highway," has 40 existing or planned hydrogen fueling sites and a goal for up to 100 by 2010, the state's
Environmental Protection Agency reported last month.
Besides California, Intelligent Energy hopes to market the motorcycles in China, Japan and Europe. Source