MIT’s Electric Vehicle Team, which has a long record of building and racing innovative electric vehicles, including cars and motorcycles, in international professional-level competitions, is trying something very different this year: The team is building a hydrogen-powered electric motorcycle, using a fuel cell system, as a testbed for new hydrogen-based transportation.
The motorcycle successfully underwent its first full test-track demonstration in October. It is designed as an open-source platform that should make it possible to swap out and test a variety of different components, and for others to try their own versions based on plans the team is making freely available online.
Aditya Mehrotra, who is spearheading the project, is a graduate student working with mechanical engineering professor Alex Slocum, the Walter M. May and A. Hazel May Chair in Emerging Technologies. Mehrotra was studying energy systems and happened to also really like motorcycles, he says, “so we came up with the idea of a hydrogen-powered bike. We did an evaluation study, and we thought that this could actually work. We [decided to] try to build it.”
Team members say that while battery-powered cars are a boon for the environment…
IMAGE (above): Aditya Mehrotra performs a “shakedown” test — running the hydrogen-powered electric motorcycle at high speeds to ensure that the mechanical and electrical systems hold up. Credit: Adam Glanzman.