October 30, 2006 Yamaha showed a new fuel cell scooter at this week’s 22nd International Battery, Hybrid and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exposition (EVS22), in Yokohama, Japan. Though only a prototype, it shows things can go a long way in a year. Yamaha has been developing fuel cell technology for 20 years, and this time last year it was proudly showing it’s FC-ME (wouldn’t you think such a clever company would get a Western-savvy marketing exec to vet their names), a lightweight machine powered by Yamaha’s Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) system, and with the performance of a 50cc scooter. This year the FC-AQEL hydrogen fuel cell scooter prototype has 125cc class performance – though no power figures have been quoted, that’s at least a 100 percent increase over last year’s best and enough grunt to make the FC-AQEL viable in most global markets. Now all we need is a hydrogen infrastructure.
The FC-AQEL mates Yamaha-developed electric drive and control technologies with its Hydrogen Fuel Cell System. The hybrid system with a secondary battery boasts high efficiency and power output, while the use of metal separators in the fuel cell enables a more compact, lightweight design. The system's two high-pressure (35Mpa) fuel tanks aim to provide ample running distance. The drive unit utilizes the ultra-thin Yamaha Integrated Power Unit (YIPU) technology developed for the company’s electric commuter vehicles and, by designing a drive system that mounts an ultra-flat brushless DC motor, a super-small controller unit and the planetary gearing all into the rear hub, a compact design has been achieved. This is all integrated into the swinging arm design, in a similar way that scooters integrate gas-engined powerplants. The result is a model that combines solid power output and compactness without sacrificing any of the convenience and ease of handling people expect in a motorcycle.
The FC-AQEL was developed with the aims of advancing environmental technologies and creating a new motorcycle market sector and YMC plans to continue the development of its "Yamaha Hydrogen Fuel Cell System" and "Yamaha Direct Methanol Fuel Cell System" and research and development for fuel cell motorcycles.
Just for the records, the FC-AQEL was derived using the FC from Fuel Cell and AQEL for water (AcQua), and Electric.