Suzuki fuel cell bikes in the pipeline

Hydrogen fuel cell-powered Suzuki motorbikes could be on the streets soon following a deal with Loughborough-based firm Intelligent Energy.

The two companies, which have already developed a hydrogen-fuelled concept motorcycle, have hammered out a further development agreement to produce commercially viable bikes.

Intelligent Energy produces fuel cell power systems using thin metallic plates, which make the fuel cell stacks suitable for mass manufacture.

Discussing the Suzuki project, Dr Jon Moore, one of the co-founders of Intelligent Energy and director of communications, said there is currently no firm date for the release of the Crosscage, which will be decided by Suzuki.

He told edie: “We are just at the beginning of quite a long process.”

Intelligent Energy has also developed its own fuel cell prototype motorbike, the ENV, and hopes to begin taking the first orders for fleet bikes in late 2009 to early 2010.

“The technology – that works today,” Dr Moore said. “The main thing we are working on today is roadworthiness issues.

“The regulations for using them on the road don’t yet exist for hydrogen fuel cell motorcycles.”

The company, which is also developing fuel cell power systems with companies such as Boeing, Peugeot and Scottish and Southern Energy, said the motorbikes will produce 20-30% less CO2 emissions than traditional motorbikes when using hydrogen from natural gas.

They can be even cleaner if the hydrogen is obtained from water using electricity from renewable sources to split the hydrogen and oxygen molecules.

However, riders will notice a difference between the hydrogen fuel cell bikes and traditional motorcycles.

Dr Moore said: “The first thing they would notice is it’s virtually silent because the fuel cells are not engines. There are no gears either – it’s just twist and go.”

The companies have not yet revealed how much the Crosscage or the ENV will cost when they come on the market.

Kate Martin

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