The American company LiquidPiston, which develops multi-energy engines (petrol, diesel, propane, kerosene, etc.), and rotary engines in particular, has unveiled a hybrid engine powered by hydrogen for use in a go-kart. The company has adjusted its basic engine for karts (X-Engine) by adding a battery to recover energy while braking. It turns out that the very specific operation of the rotary engine* is compatible with the faster combustion of hydrogen. Its large rotor in the centre also better absorbs the energy thus released. As of right now there is increasing talk of hydrogen being a fuel in internal combustion engines, this design makes it possible to imagine applications on the track. Besides, the lawnmower noise has been kept.
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According to LiquidPiston CEO Alec Shkolnik, hydrogen can be made without any CO2 using renewable energy. He also believes that this hydrogen-powered hybrid X-engine could have opportunities in a number of sectors, from aerospace to automotive.
Otherwise, the idea of a hydrogen-powered go-kart is not a new concept in itself. In 2008, the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands designed a H2 kart that took part in a student race in Rotterdam.
*Mazda has already explored this approach with a hydrogen powered RX8 several years ago.
Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King.