Toyota commissions Yamaha Motor to develop a hydrogen engine

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A Yamaha Motor Co. V8 hydrogen engine on display in Japan, Saturday, November 13, 2021.

Toru Hanai | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Toyota commissioned Yamaha Motor to develop a hydrogen engine, with the president of the latter stating that his company was committed to the internal combustion engine.

In an announcement late last week, Yamaha said the 5.0-litre V8 engine would be developed for automobiles and based on that used in the Lexus RC F coupe, with changes to its cylinder heads and injectors, among other things.

According to Yamaha, the unit is capable of delivering up to 450 horsepower at 6,800 rpm. The company said it has been working on a hydrogen engine for automobiles for about five years.

Yamaha Motor President Yoshihiro Hidaka said while his company aims to be carbon neutral by 2050, it also has “a strong passion and level of commitment to the internal combustion engine”.

“Hydrogen engines have the potential to be carbon neutral while keeping our passion for the internal combustion engine alive,” Hidaka continued.

Last week’s statement builds on one from November 2021 when Yamaha Motor, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Toyota, Subaru and Mazda released details of what they described as a “challenge to expand fuel options for the use of internal combustion engines”. It was during this announcement that the V8 engine developed for Toyota was presented to the public.

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The idea of ​​fueling an internal combustion engine with hydrogen is not new. Toyota has already developed a GR Yaris which has a 1.6 liter ICE and uses hydrogen as fuel.

According to the company, the GR Yaris uses the same powertrain as a hydrogen-powered Corolla Sport. The firm labeled these two vehicles as “experimental”.

Companies such as BMW also produced vehicles such as the BMW Hydrogen 7. According to the German automaker, the Hydrogen 7 used an internal combustion engine and could run on gasoline or liquid hydrogen. Production of the vehicle started in 2006 and a limited series was made.

Using hydrogen to power an internal combustion engine is different from hydrogen fuel cell technology, where gas from a tank mixes with oxygen, producing electricity. As the US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center notes, fuel cell vehicles emit “only water vapor and hot air.”

On the other hand, hydrogen ICEs produce emissions. “Hydrogen engines release almost zero, trace amounts of CO2…but can produce oxides of nitrogen, or NOx,” says Cummins, the engine builder.

Hydrogen ICEs are also “less efficient” than fuel cell electric vehicles, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

While there is excitement about the potential of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and companies such as Hyundai, BMW and Toyota have all developed cars based on this technology, others within the industry have embraced a different point of view.

In June 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted “fuel cells = fool sells,” adding in July this year: “Selling hydrogen fools makes no sense.”

In February 2021, the CEO of the German Volkswagen group also spoke out on the subject. “It’s time for politicians to accept science”, Herbert Diess tweeted.

“Green hydrogen is needed for steel, chemicals, aerospace… and shouldn’t end up in cars. Far too expensive, inefficient, slow and difficult to deploy and transport. After all: no of #hydrogen cars in sight.”

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