Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) is set to make a groundbreaking entry into the ENEOS Super Taikyu Series 2023 Round 2 NAPAC Fuji SUPER TEC 24 Hours Race, with the revolutionary #32 ORC ROOKIE GR Corolla H2 Concept powered by liquid hydrogen. This marks the first instance worldwide of a vehicle participating in a race with liquid hydrogen fuel.
After facing setbacks at the Round 1 Suzuka Super Taikyu 5 Hours Race due to a vehicle fire caused by a hydrogen leak, Toyota has worked diligently in the past two months to implement necessary improvements and prioritize safety. Changes have been made to the design of the hydrogen piping system, including relocating it away from hot areas and installing safety covers on joints to prevent loosening and detect leaks promptly.
Moreover, during this period, Toyota has successfully reduced the vehicle's weight by over 50 kg, surpassing the lap times achieved by the hydrogen engine-equipped Corolla when it first competed in May 2021 using gaseous hydrogen fuel.
The liquid hydrogen utilized in the hydrogen engine-equipped Corolla is derived from lignite and was produced and transported from Australia as part of the HySTRA project. To facilitate the use of liquid hydrogen, a mobile liquid hydrogen station has been jointly developed by Iwatani Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation. This eliminates the need for compressors and pre-coolers, reducing the installation area required for refueling stations and enabling pit area refills similar to gasoline-powered vehicles. The process of filling the vehicles is also more efficient, as there is no longer a need for pressurization.
While liquid hydrogen offers advantages such as increased energy density and a longer cruising range, it poses unique challenges, including the need to maintain extremely low temperatures below -253℃. Toyota is actively addressing these challenges by developing fuel pump technology suitable for low-temperature environments, preventing hydrogen evaporation, and establishing regulations for hydrogen tanks.
Toyota's commitment to hydrogen-powered vehicles extends beyond racing, as the company has initiated joint research with Kyoto University, the University of Tokyo, and Waseda University to further reduce the weight of hydrogen engines and the size of liquid hydrogen systems. By collaborating with various partners, Toyota aims to create more advanced and sustainable vehicles.