Toyota tests hydrogen engines in race cars

Toyota said Monday it is testing hydrogen combustion engines in race cars while working on the technology to apply to commercial products.

These engines burn hydrogen for fuel instead of gasoline, like rockets. Testing technology in race cars will allow you to collect data and try to solve problems on the go, according to the Japanese automaker.

Toyota Motor Corp. previously announced that it is working on a hydrogen combustion engine, which was also developed by Ford Motor and other companies. Vehicles with these engines are different from fuel cell vehicles that use hydrogen to generate electricity, and electric or hybrid vehicles.

“We want to propose multiple options to meet regional needs,” Naoyuki Sakamoto, chief engineer of the hydrogen-powered Corolla, told a news conference.

Sakamoto declined to say when the hydrogen combustion engine could become a commercial product, acknowledging that further development is needed to improve on the limited driving range. The fuel infrastructure for these vehicles is another obstacle. Toyota has not published the scope or scope of the technology.

A feature of hydrogen engines is that they require minimal modifications to standard internal combustion engines, with the exception of fuel lines and injection systems.

The use of hydrogen as a fuel raises some safety concerns, but there are hydrogen refueling stations in Japan and so far there have been no serious accidents.

Sakamoto noted that hydrogen is as safe as any other fuel used on roads today, noting that lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars have caused fires, and hydrogen tanks are made of carbon fibres.

The company said it is testing its latest hydrogen technology in a 1.6-liter Yaris race car.

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Follow Yuuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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