Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha join forces to research and develop hydrogen-powered engines

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry grants approval to Japanese automakers to form a technological research association for developing hydrogen-powered engines for small mobility purposes.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 17 May 2023 Views icon8576 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Kawasaki Motors, Suzuki Motor Corporation, Honda Motor Co and Yamaha Motor Co have jointly announced today that they have received approval from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to form a technological research association called HySE (Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology) for developing hydrogen-powered engines for small mobility.

HYSE has outlined the main R&D areas and the role of each company. Honda will undertake research on the model-based development of hydrogen-powered engines, Suzuki will conduct the element study on functionality, performance, and reliability of the hydrogen-powered engines, while Yamaha and Kawasaki will carry out hands-on research using real hydrogen-powered engines on their functionality, performance, and reliability.

Furthermore, Yamaha will also study the requirements for a hydrogen refueling system and hydrogen tanks for small mobility, while Kawasaki Motors will study the auxiliary equipment required for a fuel supply system and tanks, and the equipment installed between the fuel tank and the injector.

In addition to these four full members, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Toyota Motor Corporation support the association as special members. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, being one of the main organisers of the ‘CO2-free Hydrogen Energy Supply-chain Technology Research Association’ (HySTRA), will drive forward HySE’s activities, based on the knowledge gained from its activities for HySTRA. Toyota, on the other hand, will assume the role of leveraging HySE’s research results to the maximum benefit for the development of hydrogen-powered engines, utilizing its know-how on experiments, analyses, and the designing of large hydrogen-fuelled power units for four-wheel vehicles.

Multi-pronged strategy
To realise a decarbonised society, a multi-pathway strategy to address various issues in the mobility sector is necessary, rather than focusing on a single energy source. Against this backdrop, research and development targeted at commercialisation of mobility with engines powered by hydrogendeemed a next-generation energy sourceis gaining momentum.

However, the use of hydrogen poses technical challenges, including fast flame speed and a large region of ignition, which often result in unstable combustion, and the limited fuel tank capacity in case of use in small mobility vehicles. In addressing these issues, the members of HySE say they “are committed to conducting fundamental research, capitalizing on their wealth of expertise and technologies in developing gasoline-powered engines, and aim to work together with the joint mission of establishing a design standard for small mobility’s hydrogen-powered engine, and of advancing the fundamental research endeavours in this area.”

The Japanese automaker quartet plan to “continue to deepen their collaborative relations in order to provide a variety of small mobility options to users and meet their diverse needs, thereby contributing to the realization of a decarbonised society.”

Kenji Komatsu, Chairman nominee of HySE and Executive Officer of Technical Research & Development Center, Yamaha Motor Co, said: “We are extremely pleased to announce the planned formation of the association. There are many challenges in the development of hydrogen-powered engines, but we hope to see the association’s activities advance the fundamental research in order to meet those challenges. We are committed to this endeavour with a sense of mission to preserve the use of internal combustion engines, which epitomize the long-time efforts that our predecessors have invested.”

Lead image: Representational logos of four HySE companies

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