Automakers’ attention and investment in electric vehicles could spell the end of the internal combustion engine. Electric vehicles are currently the most efficient way to achieve carbon neutrality, so the situation is understandable. However, some automakers, including Toyota and Yamaha, are exploring alternatives to retain the benefits of the internal combustion engine.
One such positive is the exhilarating performance and sound produced by some ICEs. Comparatively, electric vehicles are mostly quiet on the road, which can be annoying. Enter the hydrogen V8 engine that Toyota and Yamaha teamed up to build. If Toyota and Yamaha pull it off, the internal combustion engine could still be around for a few more decades.
The hydrogen V8 engine from Toyota and Yamaha
According to Yamaha engine, the manufacturer has been developing a hydrogen engine for cars for about five years. He was recently commissioned by Toyota to build a 5-liter hydrogen-powered V8 engine.
This follows an announcement made at the end of 2021 by five Japanese automakers, including Toyota, Mazda, Subaru and many others, about their collaboration to expand the range of fuel options. Achieving carbon neutrality is another goal of collaborative efforts.
Notably, the V8 isn’t Toyota’s first crack at a hydrogen engine, with MotorTrend reporting that the Japanese automaker was already testing a hydrogen-powered GR Yaris in 2021.
As for the 5.0-liter hydrogen-powered V8, it’s modeled after the Lexus RC F’s V8, which is a 472-hp engine with 395 lb-ft of torque. Conversely, the performance of this option is 450 horsepower and about 397 lb-ft of torque.
Hydrogen technology as an alternative to electrification and fossil fuels
The idea of using hydrogen instead of fossil fuels has been around for some time. the US Department of Energy even notes that under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, hydrogen is classified as an alternative fuel. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a few automakers have dabbled in creating these types of engines in the past.
Nevertheless, there have been some hiccups, as implied by the lack of hydrogen vehicles on modern roads. The first is that producing hydrogen by reforming fossil fuels creates carbon emissions, which goes beyond the tip of the engine in the first place.
There are other ways to produce hydrogen without carbon emissions, for example electrolysis, but they are ridiculously expensive. That said, more effective and efficient production methods are also being developed.
Another problem is the low energy density of the final product. Therefore, to produce the same amount of energy, much more hydrogen would have to be used compared to other fuels. This adds to the waste, as much of the energy produced does not reach the wheels of the car.
Hydrogen engines also produce toxic nitrogen oxide emissions. Nevertheless, the biggest obstacle to hydrogen engines comes in the form of hydrogen fuel cells. They seem to have a much better fuel-to-energy ratio with no toxic emissions.
In addition, little power is lost between the fuel cell and the wheels of the car. Of course, this has distracted attention and research from hydrogen engines until recently. However, it looks like Toyota and other automakers have recently revived their interest in the technology with the 5-liter V8 engine as proof.
Other automakers are looking for similar eco-friendly alternatives
Other automakers have also tested hydrogen engines while striving to achieve greener mobility. It should also help them comply with current and future environmental regulations.
BMW, for example, produced the BMW Hydrogen 7 from 2005 to 2007. However, more recently, the German automaker, alongside other car brands like Porsche and Mclaren, is considering new synthetic fuels as an option. However, unlike the joint Toyota and Yamaha project, it may take a little longer before you see tangible results.
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