The switch from combustion engines to electric vehicles has been rapid as technology advances and the cost of ownership declines. But there are some concerns about the environmental impact of these cleaner vehicles, including the fact that producing electricity also creates pollution.
But there might be an even better solution on the horizon, and Toyota is in the driver’s seat.
The hydrogen revolution
Toyota has already produced a hydrogen-powered vehicle, the Mirai, but it relies on fuel cells to create electricity. Now the company has its sights set on a new spin on things with what it’s calling the “hydrogen combustion engine.”
Here’s what you should know about hydrogen:
- It is the most abundant element in the universe
- It also has the highest energy density aside from nuclear power
- It doesn’t produce exhaust or any other toxins
- It is easy to create, safe to store, and simple to distribute
So using hydrogen seems like a no-brainer … and Toyota’s plans could prove to be a better solution than the EVs on the road today.
Here’s how it will work
Although hydrogen combustion engines are still in the research and development phase, there are already plenty of details about how Toyota hopes to put it all together.
The underlying technology is similar to traditional petroleum-powered engines, but it’s been modified to run on hydrogen. BMW tried out this approach more than 20 years ago, though there were some serious side effects (like the fact that the cars were prone to catch fire).
Toyota is addressing these concerns in its new 3-cylinder engine. Using thick tanks to store the hydrogen helps protect it and about 11 pounds of the gas provides a range of about 300 miles.
In addition to longer ranges and quicker charges, the only emission is water.