Hydrogen as a power source isn’t new for Toyota. They’ve been doing it with their Mirai sedan that uses a combination of fuel cells, electricity, oxygen, and hydrogen in order to move. Now, they’re taking things up a notch by announcing the development of a hydrogen engine – and it will make its debut in a race car.
The new engine is a 1.6L 3-cylinder turbo running on compressed hydrogen. It’s a more direct approach compared to Toyota’s Fuel-Cell System in that the hydrogen here is directly injected to the engine. It utilizes modified versions of existing fuel supply and injection systems used in conventional engines today. The only difference is, with hydrogen being the main element, no carbon dioxide is discharged from the combustion itself.
Toyota also claims that hydrogen burns quicker than gasoline making the engine more responsive. It will also be more fun to drive because with a combustion engine powering the car, it will have the same thrilling noise and vibrations we’ve been fond of, which electric vehicles lack.
The new hydrogen engine will be tested in a race car based on the Corolla Sport. It will make its debut on May 21 when ORC Rookie Racing competes in the Super Taikyu Series 2021 which is a 24-hour endurance race. Unlike normal racing where it’s finished after a few hours, a 24-hour endurance race will put the engine to the ultimate stress test. Surviving it will mean another reliable power unit that Toyota can adapt for their consumer cars.
Toyota has been trying a myriad of alternative power sources, dipping their toes in a full-electric SUV recently, while not letting go of their fuel-cell and hybrid technologies. This new hydrogen engine in development is the latest towards achieving their goal for being carbon neutral and having a cleaner society.