Electric go-karts already exist, but now one company has created a complex-looking hydrogen-powered kart using a rotary hybrid engine. LiquidPiston has got its X-Engine to run on hydrogen, so the kart expells nothing but water.
The X-Engine is said to be a next-generation rotary engine, igniting on all three points of the triangle - a Wankel engine like you’d find in a Mazda RX-8 only ignites on one side. It weighs just 2kg, whereas a petrol-powered go-kart typically has an engine weighing nine times that.
The company is looking to target a range of sectors including aviation and automotive, where there are clear benefits to having a lighter power source. That won’t be for a little while yet, but the company’s CEO, Alec Shkolnik, has suggested the hydrogen-powered engine could get its power from the sun or wind, creating a fully zero-emission vehicle.
New electric cars tend to be much heavier than petrol ones, as battery packs weigh a couple of hundred kilos by themselves. As you probably know, lightness helps acceleration, braking, cornering and wear-and-tear on parts.
Hydrogen is merely the latest fuel to power this X-Engine; it’s previously run on petrol, diesel, propane, kerosene and jet fuel.
Running like this, the go-kart has regenerative braking, so the battery recharges when you take your foot off the accelerator and you’ll be able to longer between refuelling. What we’re not sure of, though, is whether every kart will have to be on wet tyres, as water comes out of the exhaust pipe rather than vapour. Surely it’d end up like something out of Mario Kart after two laps…
LiquidPiston showed its new hydrogen go-kart on the Warped Perception YouTube channel, where we get to see our first glimpse of it moving under its own power. And the result is… slow. The company may only be doing initial testing, but we would have expected a full-power run to highlight the capability of this setup. If that’s as fast as it goes, traditional karts won’t lose any sleep and you won’t be seeing the next Lewis Hamilton in a hydrogen rotary-engined go kart.
What would you want to see a tiny engine like this in? Tell us in the comments.