The Mazda RX-8 Renesis hydrogen car may very well be the first
hydrogen car to hit the showrooms in 2008. According to Mazda,
the RX-8 rotary dual-fuel gasoline-hydrogen car (or something
similar) may just be what the showrooms ordered as the first of
its kind, ushering in a new era of hydrogen technology.
RX-8 Renesis Hydrogen Car
The Mazda RX-8 features its Renesis (RE) rotary engine that has
been equipped and optimized to run on either hydrogen or gasoline
with the flip of a switch. According to Mazda, rotary engines
are particular suited to run hydrogen since they are not prone
to backfiring and misfiring as are standard internal combustion
engines. This is because the Renesis rotary engine has separate
chambers for intake and combustion, two injectors per intake chamber
and the fuel does not ignite until top dead center.
Because it's a dual-fuel vehicles the Mazda RX-8 has different
specifications depending upon whether its running in gasoline
or hydrogen mode. In gasoline mode, the RX-8 generates 210 bhp
and has a range of 330 miles. In hydrogen mode, the Mazda RX-8
generates 109 bhp with a range of 60 miles. The RX-8 also carries
a compressed hydrogen tank at 5,000 psi. In the past, using hydrogen-only
rotary engines, Mazda was able to get better performance from
their engines and is hopeful of achieving better performance in
the future on the hydrogen side of the dual-fuel engine as well.
The Mazda RX-8 also boasts improved aerodynamics, lower overall
weight, optimized tires and reduced brake drag. As an environmentally-friendly
vehicle, the RX-8 was coated with three-layer, wet-on water-based
paint reducing the emissions of C02 and organic solvents in the
Renesis Rotary Dual-Fuel Engine
The Mazda RX-8 hydrogen car was first
unveiled at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show and has received much
attention ever since because of its ability as a dual-fuel
vehicle to sidestep the hydrogen infrastructure issue.
In March 2006, Mazda delivered the RX-8 RE hydrogen car to its
first two corporate customers in Japan. Iwatani International
Corporation in Osaka and Idemitsu Kosan Corporation, Ltd. in Tokyo,
received the first two RX-8 hydrogen cars in lease deals coming
in at under $10,000 per month.
According to RX-8 Hydrogen RE development program manager Akihiro
Kashiwagi, "We're pleased to deliver these hydrogen rotary
vehicles for fleet use in these two companies, which are participating
in the Japan Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Demonstration Project (JHFC)
and are actively engaged in advancing further uses of hydrogen
energy. And we are looking forward to hearing feedback from our
customers about the cars."
One area in which Mazda has hit a roadblock with its RX-8 RE
hydrogen car is with government leases. Mazda has stated that
since government officials see the RX-8 as a sports car, they've
had a hard time justifying a lease for government fleet use. But,
Mazda may just bypass the government rollouts and go straight
to consumers with the RX-8 RE. Then again, Mazda may just switch
gears and in 2008 roll out their Premacy
RE Hydrogen Hybrid minivan instead. Stay tuned to see
which hydrogen vehicle zoom-zooms to the head of the pack.