Toyota has announced the start of testing of a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine. As an experiment, this unit will be installed on the Corolla Sport sedan, which will compete in the Japanese Super Taikyu Series 2021 endurance racing series Powered by Hankook.
Interestingly, we are really not talking about a power plant on hydrogen fuel cells, like, say, the Toyota Mirai sedan, but about a conventional piston engine. This is a three-cylinder 1.6 turbo engine with an adapted fuel line and an injection system, which uses compressed, that is, compressed, hydrogen instead of gasoline. The principle of operation of such an internal combustion engine is the same. However, carbon dioxide emissions are near-zero – and those that exist are caused only by burning a small amount of engine oil.
In addition to the obvious contribution to the decarbonization of transport, such an engine has a number of other advantages. Firstly, hydrogen ignites much faster than gasoline and therefore provides good responsiveness. Secondly, according to the manufacturer, hydrogen motors retain all the features of a classic internal combustion engine, in particular sound and vibration. This may mean that the first in the queue for the installation of such units will most likely be sports cars.
It was decided to test the new technology in the old fashioned way – in races. And first, the hydrogen “turbotron” will be registered under the hood of the Toyota Corolla Sport, prepared according to the regulations of the Super Taikyu Series 2021 Powered by Hankook. The car will be refueled with “green” hydrogen obtained at the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field. One of the world’s largest hydrogen production plants operates in the village of Namie, located north of the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, and uses electricity from a local solar power plant with a capacity of 20 megawatts.
However, the idea of making ICEs work on hydrogen is not new. The first such unit was designed by the Frenchman Isaac de Rivaz back in 1806. And already in the 21st century, BMW converted the 7 series sedan (E65) into a four-door Hydrogen 7, which was equipped with a bivalent V12 6.0. This engine produced 260 horsepower and could run on both gasoline and hydrogen.