The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Electric Vehicle Team (MIT EVT for short) is a student-run team at MIT that’s been exploring electric vehicle innovation for over a decade. Now, as of March 29, 2023, the team has announced a new partnership with Doosan Mobility Innovation (DMI) to build a new hydrogen-powered motorcycle.  

Hydrogen and electric power aren’t the same thing, so what’s going on here? According to the Doosan team, MIT EVT has come to the conclusion that battery-electric vehicles, at their current stage of development, have both range hurdles and lithium mining concerns to overcome. As a result, the team wants to explore the possibilities of small hydrogen fuel cells in the hopes that hydrogen vehicles can overcome both of those obstacles. 

There’s a key phrase in the press release about this project, though, and it’s just four words long: “assuming green hydrogen production.” As we’ve discussed before, production of green hydrogen is certainly possible in theory. However, it’s currently so expensive in practice that many companies have opted to produce so-called blue hydrogen instead, which uses existing natural gas to produce—and as such, is a considerable problem if you’re trying to combat carbon emissions. That said, the history of technological developments always starts out on the expensive end, and then comes down to more reasonable levels over many iterations (and time)—so there’s certainly precedent for hope. 

In any case, DMI will provide the MIT EVT with its DM15 fuel cell module, which can provide up to 1.5 kilowatts of power. It’s never been integrated into a motorcycle before, but both the MIT team and DMI are interested to see how this experiment goes.  

"The DM15 module is really small, and lightweight making it ideal for integration into a vehicle like a motorcycle. We hope to work with DMI and their fuel cell technology to really push the boundaries of what EVs can do, and showcase the capabilities of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source,” MIT student and project lead Aditya (Adi) Mehrotra said in a statement. "The more people we have working on this, the faster it might become a reality, and the faster we can build a greener planet.” 

To that end, while the DMI fuel cell technology won’t be open-source, the MIT EVT team plans to make much of its design process and calculations for the motorcycle’s design available online. That way, the team says, it can help to jump-start other companies that want to get involved in producing hydrogen fuel cell motorbikes of their own.  

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