Toyota in Japan said it is testing hydrogen combustion engines in racing cars as it is working to use the technology in commercial products.
The Japanese manufacturer commented that testing on race cars allows it to understand and fix problems on the spot.
“We want to offer several options to meet regional needs,” said Naoyuki Sakamoto, chief engineer of the hydrogen-powered Corolla model, in an online press conference.
Sakamoto declined to say when the hydrogen internal combustion engine could become a commercial product, admitting that they still need further development.
Lack of infrastructure for refueling such vehicles is another obstacle. Toyota has not published the range or mileage for this technology, focusing on the benefits. Having named environmental friendliness during use, high efficiency, quiet operation of the engine, quick refueling.
The company also announced the production of hydrogen at a geothermal power plant in southern Japan.
But a hydrogen engine is not 100% waste-free, it emits a small amount of carbon dioxide from the engine oil. The concern said it has developed a technology for purifying nitrogen oxide emissions.
There is a lot of discussion around hydrogen engines. Their supporters believe in their future – for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger, back in 2004, as governor of California, promised that by 2010 the entire state would be covered with hydrogen highways. But that did not happen. This is partly to blame for the global economic crisis: automakers have had to survive in difficult financial conditions, and such technologies require large and long-term investments.
Others, on the other hand, criticize the technology for its obvious flaws. For example, Tesla founder Elon Musk called hydrogen engines “stunningly dumb technology”, which is noticeably inferior in efficiency to electric batteries. Today, hydrogen cars have to compete with electric cars, hybrids, compressed air, and liquid nitrogen vehicles.
But hydrogen fuel has a significant advantage over electric batteries – durability. If the battery in an electric car lasts for three to five years, then a hydrogen fuel cell lasts for eight to ten years. At the same time, hydrogen batteries are better suited for harsh climates: they do not lose their charge in the cold, as happens with electric cars.