The new Toyota Mirai is proof that the Japanese automaker still believes in hydrogen as the fuel of the future and a potential alternative to clean electric cars. In this regard, it is now proceeding to establish a new branch. In addition to using hydrogen fuel cells to power electric motors (as in Mirai), a new engine that burns hydrogen directly is being tested.
The new supercharged 1618 cc three-cylinder unit is a classic piston engine. However, it would burn compressed hydrogen mixed with air through a modified fuel line and injection system (derived from a regular gasoline engine). Aside from burning a minimal amount of engine oil (which also happens with gasoline engines), a hydrogen engine does not produce carbon dioxide2.
The development of engines that burn hydrogen instead of gasoline or diesel dates back to the 1920s, when other large automakers such as BMW, Mazda, and Ford had previously experimented with units that used hydrogen. However, this technology has never spread to regular car production. The fuel cell system, in which hydrogen is used to generate electricity to later power the electric motor, has been relatively more successful.
However, Toyota believes that its many years of experience developing hydrogen vehicles, and the current technical means and subsequent testing in motorsport can move hydrogen engine technology even further. In the near future, let’s not expect Toyota to produce a hydrogen engine, but instead to explore this branch of the potential development of hydrogen propulsion and carbon neutral transport.
A new hydrogen engine found a place in the racer, which was built on the basis of the Toyota Corolla Sport. Toyota has yet to release photos of the vehicle. The new technology will see a sharp event at the end of May at the 24-hour Super Taikyu Series race on the Fuji International Speedway.