Automotive manufacturers have been trying to switch up the fuel game for a couple of decades now. Toyota was one of the first manufacturers to come up with revolutionary power technology in the form of hybrid systems that were first seen in the Prius. Since then, countless other hybrid and fully electric vehicles have been released and many believe that this is the way forwards. However, many people and even Toyota as a company are skeptical about the practicality and the actual environmental friendliness of EVs. This has led to further innovation in the field of Hydrogen power. Toyota, which is currently one of the largest automakers in the world has invested a lot of time and money in this technology. Finally, its efforts seem to be paying off and Toyota might just be able to save the beloved internal combustion engine.
Toyota Is Insisting On Hydrogen For Good Reason
Shot of the Toyota Mirai mechanical components
Hydrogen is one of the most promising environmentally friendly power sources for vehicle propulsion to date. So far, Toyota has used hydrogen in combination with batteries to eliminate charging times but to also reduce emissions. Through science and technology, the batteries in an electric vehicle can be recharged using hydrogen; therefore, one does not need to wait for hours while their vehicle charges up. You simply pull up at a fuel station, fill up with hydrogen, and off you go.
However, fuelling times aren’t the only benefit. Hydrogen vehicles do not need batteries as large as the ones in conventional EVs. This means that the car is much more environmentally friendly. You see, the production and disposal of batteries currently used in vehicles are terribly damaging to the environment. The whole process doesn’t make much sense as precious metals are mined in Eastern areas of the world and are then shipped in tanker ships all the way to Western countries. After all this, they then go through production lines so they can be installed in vehicles where they will be recharged using fossil fuels as the main energy source for the electricity pumped in them. So, as you can see, having smaller and fewer batteries is a good thing. But wait, there is more. Toyota didn’t limit hydrogen usage as a sole method of recharging batteries. Engineers have played with the idea of using hydrogen in conventional internal combustion engines as a replacement for petrol. You see, using Hydrogen as a fuel source has water as a byproduct; therefore, implementing such technology successfully will revolutionize the automotive world.
Toyota Has Come Up With Hydrogen V-8 And Three-Cylinder Engines
A front three-quarter shot of a hydrogen powered Toyota GR Yaris H2
The great news here is that Toyota has managed to make Hydrogen work in the 1.6-liter Yaris engine. Also, with the help of Yamaha, the two companies have made the 5.0-liter V-8 from the Lexus RC-F work on Hydrogen with similar power figures. There is actually a video of a working Yaris GR prototype that uses this technology and the engine looks and sounds exactly like the normal petrol version (except for some Hydrogen fuel delivery pipes and a tank in the trunk of the car). Best of all, internal combustion engines do not need many modifications in order to run on Hydrogen. Some state that stronger connecting rods, pistons, and valves might be needed alongside a fuel injection system that is optimized for gas rather than liquid. However, some engines may only need different fuel systems if the internals are already strong enough. Therefore, with Hydrogen-powered vehicles manufacturers will be able to use existing production lines and even existing engine designs while also saving the planet. What’s not to like here?
Toyota’s Technology Might Also Keep Older Classic Vehicles On The Road
A front 3/4 outdoor shot of a Mk4 1994 Toyota Supra on display during the 22nd annual All Toyotafest
What we are about to mention hasn’t been officially stated by Toyota. However, if this does happen, Toyota will ensure that the planet stays healthier while our loved and cherished old and classic vehicles remain on the road. Imagine an optimized hydrogen system that can come as a kit to convert petrol-powered vehicles to hydrogen ones. It may just be a matter of replacing the fueling system and some internal parts of the engine. This would mean that car guys will still be able to enjoy their beloved machines in the future without having to pay insane amounts of road tax or having to convert them to electric.
But, What Are the Downsides?
The Toyota/Yamaha hydrogen-burning V-8 with its wild exhaust manifold.
Like all technologies, there are some downsides to Hydrogen engines; however, we believe that they are relatively easy to work around. The downside here regards the storage of hydrogen, and the problem is two-fold. Firstly, in order to get a decent range from a hydrogen-powered engine we need a lot of hydrogen which leads to big tanks. These big tanks will decrease vehicle interior space. The second part of the problem is that hydrogen is highly flammable and is stored under very high pressures. Therefore, the fuel tanks need to be leak-proof but also insanely tough as they need to hold the pressurized gas in the event of an accident.
That being said, once the storage difficulties have been addressed, it should be much easier to equip the world with hydrogen fuel stations rather than EV chargers. It will only be a matter of installing the necessary pumps and storage systems alongside the pumps and storage systems of normal fuels. So, our hopes are with Toyota and the incredible engineers working on his incredible technology that has the power to drastically reduce emissions (more than electric vehicles do) while also keeping internal combustion engines alive.