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Toyota testing hydrogen combustion engines in race cars

35 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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This IS a dead-end technology because it can't be qualified as zero-emission by legal definition in Europe, US, and China.

Really?

US

Hydrogen Laws and Incentives in Federal Law

The list below contains summaries of all Federal laws and incentives related to hydrogen:

Fuel Cell Motor Vehicle Tax Credit

A tax credit of up to $8,000 is available for the purchase of qualified light-duty fuel cell vehicles, depending on the vehicle's fuel economy. Tax credits are also available for medium- and heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles; credit amounts are based on vehicle weight.

https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/laws/HY?state=US

For a tech that does not qualify as Zero-emission definition, the US Goverment has no problem giving it a tax credit.

China

China rolls out fresh policies to boost hydrogen vehicle sales

China, the world’s biggest automobile market, rolled out fresh policies to support hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to improve the industry’s supply chain and technologies, the finance ministry said on Monday.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-autos-hydrogen-idUSKCN26C07G

EU

Europe is going all in on hydrogen power.

https://grist.org/energy/europe-is-going-all-in-on-hydrogen-power-why-isnt-the-us/

BMW starts European road tests of hydrogen fuel cell cars

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/17/bmw-starts-european-road-tests-of-hydrogen-fuel-cell-cars.html

Interesting. It seems that the US, China, and Europe all have hydrogen programs. Can you tell me Why?

Since" it can't be qualified as zero-emission by legal definition in Europe, US, and China".

????????????

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Competitive racing is a great testing ground and innovation driver of auto design and tech.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

*However, within air hydrogen combustion can produce oxides of nitrogen, known as NOx. *

I guess someone did not read the article, because it does say:

But the hydrogen engine is not 100% zero emission, emitting a tiny bit of carbon dioxide from the engine oil. Toyota said it has developed technology to purify its nitrogen oxide, or NOx, emissions.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

there are only two paths to zero emission, battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell.

But doesn't the production of fuel cells and batteries also involve emissions? I think we still have to look at all alternatives.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

BTW, here is the reason why hydrogen combustion engine will never be considered zero emission.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_internal_combustion_engine_vehicle

*However, within air hydrogen combustion can produce oxides of nitrogen, known as NOx. In this way, the combustion process is much like other high temperature combustion fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, diesel or natural gas. *As such hydrogen combustion engines are not considered zero emission.

and from the same source:

Since hydrogen combustion is not zero emission but has zero CO2 emissions,

Typically hydrogen engines are designed to use about twice as much air as theoretically required for complete combustion. At this air/fuel ratio, the formation of NOx is reduced to near zero.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

You misunderstood Samit's comment, which was questioning the legality of hydrogen combustion engines and not hydrogen fuel cells.

because it emits Nox right? What does the article state?

Toyota said it has developed technology to purify its nitrogen oxide, or NOx, emissions.

????

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Excellent stuff Toyota! I’ve been following their races since Fuji 24 hours back in April.

Looking forward to a future which includes both hydrogen combustion and hydrogen fuel cell engines!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The current obsession with EV’s ignores some serious environmental down sides, the batteries require energy to manufacture which currently and for some time to come will have to come from fossil fuels, the rare earths needed are mostly found in countries that either are inimical to the west or there are serious child labour and environmental degradation issues as also with the production of lithium which is a very limited resource. The recycling of the lithium car batteries is a nightmare and virtually no infrastructure is in place in any country to recycle them. The chemicals in these batteries are extremely toxic so you can’t just dump them. And that doesn’t even account for the environmental damage and energy consumption/manufacturing/pollution concomitant with the massive expansion of the grid, generation capacity and infrastructure to support all these battery powered vehicles across the world.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

which countries will dominate in the automotive industry in say 50 years from now?

The way things are going, I think as many countries as possible are going to want to manufacture in their own country. Even in Australia, with our relatively small population, there are companies that want to manufacture domestically again and given our raw materials, we should be able to do that in highly automated factories.

Europe is quite protectionist. I think domestic pressure will be huge in places like Germany to protect their car manufacturing. In America, I think NAFTA is going be more and more central. Does America need to import cars from Asia? There is plenty of relatively cheap labor in Mexico and South America and Telsa of course, is a U.S company. Will be interesting to see if they setup a gigafactory in Mexico or South America.

its going to be a patchwork, just like it is now.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I'm very wrong about my previous comment. I'm mixed up about hydrogen combustion engine and fuel cell engine. Hydrogen engine is a combustion system like gasoline engine but fuel cell is not combustion engine. It is a motor. Both needs hydrogen and oxygen anyway.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Most countries assume future cars are EV only and nothing else so they are producing Electric cars only whatever. But Toyota president says EV is really one of them and another engine is very necessary in the future (just like today gasoline engine, diesel engine and hybrid engine) . Another one is fuel cell engine. Its combustion system is mechanically very similar to gasoline engine. If major automakers produce cell engines, those many auto-parts makers can produce same kinds of auto-parts as before and can survive auto-industry for a long time, so thousands of workers would not be out of jobs in auto-industry. EV does not need so many parts as gasoline/fuel cell engine.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The much over hyped fear of hydrogen explosion (petrol can also explode, burns longer, runs all over the place as a burning liquid and unlike hydrogen doesn’t vanish rapidly in to the air and eventually space, but we are used to ignoring the risks of petrol) can be mitigated by solid storage technology which is being progressed by many companies across the world, see www.h2gopower.com for example. Able to store more than enough to be range competitive if not more with petrol and at 1 bar pressure.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The biggest advantage is that we still can enjoy the exhaust note and be able to check the oil and the spark plugs.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The major benefit of hydrogen fueled combustion engines is that they emit zero carbon dioxide They won't add to global warming. There are a variety of ways to clean up NOx emissions. Cars do this today. Wartsila, a company that makes these giant four and five story tall diesel engines used to power the largest container cargo ships and tankers and to generate electrical power ashore is experimenting with different mixtures of ammonia and hydrogen as a motor fuel for derivatives of their existing big diesel engines. Ammonia is easier to handle and store than hydrogen. It can be liquified at much higher temperatures than hydrogen. Hydrogen can store as a gas at room temperature but the energy content per volume is much lower than for liquid hydrogen. Ammonia is combustible but less so than hydrogen. Wartsila's thought is that by mixing hydrogen and ammonia they can make a fuel that is easier to store as a liquid and more predictable in the combustion chamber than hydrogen, but more powerful per volume than ammonia alone. However some shipbuilders are already building ships with derivatives of existing big shipboard diesel engines that run on ammonia.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"Zero emissions" buzzword resembles earlier obsession with "perpetuum mobile".

Although the hydrogen engine does not emit CO2 (except traces from engine oil oxidation), preparation of hydrogen, by any method, requires a lot of energy. If H2 is prepared by electrolysis, the emissions occur during electricity generation. We could think of substituting conventional electric plants with solar panels. However, production of solar panels requires huge amounts of energy, and causes huge CO2 emission, to compensate which you need many years of solar panel operation. It is unrealistic to expect that solar panels can substitute conventional energy sources, because world energy needs are already gigantic without including energy needs necessary for panel production.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Actually, "perpetuum mobile" was a domain of little tinfoil hats.

"Zero emission" goals, however, are seriously considered by the largest companies,

by politicians and "the most prestigious scientific societies". Why? Perhaps,

because "zero emission" has a lot to do with money: for example, bankers in America

are planning to spend 150 T$ in 30 years to achieve "zero emissions". (This really means they plan for 5T$ yearly inflation). All businesses/"learned society" entities would be foolish to disregard such an opportunity.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Does America need to import cars from Asia? 

Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW and Volkswagen all manufacture their cars in the US. Some are unique to the North American market. Some Toyota's have greater "domestic content" than the cars and trucks of notionally "American" auto manufacturers.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Volkswagen Audi Group are the only companies with the resources to actually research all alternatives and support the ones which make the most sense from meaterials, to production, and to the end user.

I guess you haven't heard of MAN Energy Solutions, Sulzer or Wartsila. The Danish shipping giant Maersk Lines is spending huge amounts of their money funding research into alternative propulsion systems and fuels for big merchant ships. Wartsila I have mentioned before. MAN is involved in methanol fuel research. China Merchants Heavy Industries is building ammonia powered car carriers for a Norwegian customer Hoeg Autoliners. All of these fuels have great potential to later power trains, construction equipment and heavy trucks along with shore power.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

f H2 is prepared by electrolysis, the emissions occur during electricity generation. We could think of substituting conventional electric plants with solar panels.

Solid oxide electrolysis has much greater efficiency than low temperature electrolysis. 250kw units are being tested at Idaho National Laboratory now.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What is the efficacy of hydrogen combustion engines vs fuel cell vs pure EV? From what I understand you need to crack ammonia that you stored to get back the hydrogen,

No, the current state of the art is to electrolyze hydrogen directly from water using the solid oxide electrolysis method.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Of course if we can just create an ammonia combustion engine it would be great, but those are incredibly inneficient and have high change of producing NOx emissions.

Here is a Japanese project to develop ammonia powered combustion engines for maritime use.

https://maritime-executive.com/article/japan-funds-project-for-ammonia-fueled-ships-by-2024-and-2026

Here is the Wartsila project I mentioned earlier. It has been covered by the maritime press.

https://www.wartsila.com/media/news/14-07-2021-wartsila-launches-major-test-programme-towards-carbon-free-solutions-with-hydrogen-and-ammonia-2953362

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't need to, as I was (obviously) only talking about passenger car manufacturers, in line with the article.

The tech these companies develop for big ships will certainly find its way into the cars and trucks we drive. Also do not ignore Rolls Royce who is a major manufacturer of marine and aviation engines. They too have active research programs on alternative fuels. The car companies are not seeing the big picture. They are focused on dense urban markets and completely ignoring the needs of us who live far from cities and need vehicles with long unrefueled range and fast refueling. Liquid hydrogen is very difficult to store and ship as it has to be cooled to cryogenic temperatures. That will be hard to do in a car or light truck. Gaseous hydrogen may be stored at room temperature but has very little energy content per cubic meter volume, making the unrefueled range of a vehicle running on hydrogen gas very short. Mixing hydrogen with ammonia, which can be stored in liquid form at much higher temperatures than pure hydrogen, might be a better choice but only the maritime industry is examining this alternative so far. The car companies are not doing good research on all the many alternatives that are available.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I guess they’ve figured out how to not let the exhaust melt the tar on the road like it did a few decades ago.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@desert tortoise

What is the efficacy of hydrogen combustion engines vs fuel cell vs pure EV? From what I understand you need to crack ammonia that you stored to get back the hydrogen, pump that hydrogen into the car's fuel tank and then use it for combustion or fuel cell.

Of course if we can just create an ammonia combustion engine it would be great, but those are incredibly inneficient and have high change of producing NOx emissions.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Hmm, low mileage? Then it would need lots of fueling stations

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

As somebody who has the experience in handling hydrogen, I want to know the safety standards in case of collision. Hydrogen can easily explode, and while I believe the tanks are thoroughly tested, still sounds scary.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

which countries will dominate in the automotive industry in say 50 years from now?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Shouldn't Toyota be focusing on making that solid state battery with Panasonic we were promised years ago?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@Jamminradio

You misunderstood Samit's comment, which was questioning the legality of hydrogen combustion engines and not hydrogen fuel cells.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

hydrogen engine is not 100% zero emission

This one line kills off Toyota's hydrogen combustion initiative, since zero emission means 0% emission.

I don't understand why Toyota's acting like an an ostrich; there are only two paths to zero emission, battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell. Yes, Toyota and fellow Japanese automakers are way behind everyone else in EV, but smoke and mirror tactic of lobbying against electrification or promoting hydrogen combustion won't solve Toyota and Japanese automotive industry's problems; only tripling effort to catch up to industry leaders will do.

I am now confident that Japanese automotive industry will follow the footsteps of Japan's electronics and semiconductor industries and become irrelevant by 2035.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

BTW, here is the reason why hydrogen combustion engine will never be considered zero emission.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_internal_combustion_engine_vehicle

However, within air hydrogen combustion can produce oxides of nitrogen, known as NOx. In this way, the combustion process is much like other high temperature combustion fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, diesel or natural gas. As such hydrogen combustion engines are not considered zero emission.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

@mobius217

which countries will dominate in the automotive industry in say 50 years from now?

It won't be Japan for sure.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

@Tom San

 Let's not be too quick to assume this is some kind of dead-end technology.

This IS a dead-end technology because it can't be qualified as zero-emission by legal definition in Europe, US, and China.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

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