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Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.

The concept

The Wemotaci is new generation of snowmobile that would burn hydrogen instead of gasoline. The Wemotaci's modified 888 cc two-stroke engine would produce more than 144 horsepower without polluting the atmosphere with carbon monoxide.

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The background

In Québec, 97 pre cent of our electricity comes from hydro-electric dams. Our average cost is below 7 cents/kWh. If today's batteries were powerful enough, we could use them to power snowmobiles, which require lots of horsepower to displace snow.

Wemotaci Charles Bombardier Charles Bombardier

Wemotaci Charles Bombardier Charles Bombardier

Unfortunately, battery technology isn't at that point yet, so one viable option would be to start producing hydrogen with our electricity. The hydrogen could then be used to power recreational products, which is the idea behind the Wemotaci snowmobile concept.

How it works

In 2012, two researchers from the University of Sherbrooke, named David Ho and Jean Sébastien Plante, modified a two stroke outboard engine to burn hydrogen instead of gasoline.

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They used existing parts and modified the injection system to work with gaseous hydrogen at 5,000 psi. They also modified the cylinders to improve combustion, but most parts on the engine remained stock. Their success means that it would be possible to develop a production model.

Hydrogen could be stored in medium-sized tanks similar to diver's tanks. These cylinders would be housed in a protected box behind the pilot's seat. They could also be designed to fit inside the front cab. In this case, the rear 'El Camino' box could be used to store the rider's luggage.

Would this vehicle cost more per unit? I don't think so, because the materials are basically the same. There would be an increase in fuel cost because hydrogen is more expensive than gasoline, but that difference could be reduced by carbon market incentives.

The Wemotaci would run as fast and be as powerful as existing models. Most importantly, it would only emit water vapors instead of carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons. Furthermore, it wouldn't smell like oil or exhaust fumes.

The Designer

The Wemotaci concept was developed in collaboration with Jan Bujnak, an industrial designer from the Slovak Republic. Jan graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislavia and works as a freelance designer. Jan has also produced the concept images for the Biora emotion sensing bike and the Typhon personal hovercarft.

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