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Toyota’s liquid hydrogen GR Corolla will race in Fuji 24 Hours in May

In March, Toyota’s GR Corolla H2 Concept (liquid hydrogen-powered Corolla) suffered a fire during a tet run and withdrew from the opening of the ENEOS Super Taikyu Series 2023 Powered by Hankook Round 1 Suzuka. (Earlier post.)

Now, Toyota says that with the Super Taikyu season kicking off at Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture, the first race for its liquid hydrogen-powered GR Corolla will be the Fuji 24 Hours in May—a 24-hour endurance race that is the most grueling event of the series.


Toyota says that the fire was caused by a loosened joint in the hydrogen supply piping. Hydrogen leaked from the joint and ignited, burning the surrounding plastic parts.

The leak occurred at the joint nearest to the engine, where it is exposed to the engine’s movement and vibration as the car accelerates or slows down. At the same time, the incident also demonstrated that the safety equipment was functioning properly, shutting down the hydrogen supply in less than 0.1 second. As a result, the fire was extinguished before it could spread, and no one was injured.

In addition to revising the structure of the joint, the team will modify the design to isolate it from heat sources and stop the flow of hydrogen in the event of a leak.

=In explaining the chain of events, Toyota continued to emphasize a key point: the fire was caused by a design issue and did not mean that hydrogen was inherently dangerous.

Given a spark, gasoline will burn in any environment. Hydrogen, on the other hand, only ignites at certain concentrations and temperatures. Specifically, it needs a 4% concentration in air and a temperature of at least 550 ˚C—that is, hydrogen will not ignite under any other conditions.

—GAZOO Racing Company President Tomoya Takahashi

This car competes in the ST-Q class, a category set up with the goal of developing technology that will play a part in creating our future mobility society. The purpose of such testing is to identify issues. Getting a car running on liquid hydrogen at racing speeds is something no one in the world has ever done before.

The key is figuring out how to build on the issues that emerge. We plan to keep moving forward with continuous improvement.

—Toyota President Koji Sato

I see it as par for the course in the world of racing. We undertook this effort to help create a hydrogen society. As we’ve said from the outset, the future will be shaped by acting with purpose and passion. Even as the engineers say it can’t be done, they’ve managed to develop the technology in an agile way while competing well and keeping an eye on what’s going on around us.

I drive the car myself, and we’re not giving up on the project. I want people to see hydrogen not as a danger, but as our future.

—Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda

The mobile liquid hydrogen station that will be used at the circuit is being developed by Iwatani Corporation. By using liquid hydrogen as fuel, equipment that was previously necessary to produce compressed gaseous hydrogen such as compressors and pre-coolers for cooling hydrogen are no longer needed. As a result, the station can be four times smaller compared to stations for gaseous hydrogen, and fuel can be refilled in the pit area in the same way as gasoline-powered vehicles. In addition, since there is no longer the need to pressurize when filling, multiple vehicles can be filled in succession.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries joined Toyota’s Super Taikyu endeavor in 2021 as a partner transporting Australian hydrogen and has expanded its efforts from there. Kawasaki President Yasuhiko Hashimoto used the example of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to explain the potential of liquid hydrogen.


Suiso Frontier, KHI's liquid hydrogen carrier (Photograph courtesy of HySTRA)

All of you probably regard LNG as an everyday source of energy. And yet, when I joined Kawasaki in 1981 and we built Japan’s first large LNG carrier, the reaction was, “What are you going to do with that? Why bother liquefying gas for transport? Who is going to use something so expensive?” Nonetheless, LNG has become indispensable in the push to increase the world’s energy options.

Hydrogen is very similar to natural gas, so that anything running on natural gas can easily be converted to hydrogen. It can also be turned into electricity. We can also explore new possibilities as a substitute for gasoline. Given its excellent combustibility, I think hydrogen shows great promise for use in engines.

We believe it is following the same trajectory once taken by LNG.

—Yasuhiko Hashimoto



Looks like Toyota is most definitely carrying the flag for hydrogen.
Would be interesting to know if they have agreements with the oil companies to promote H2 because research of this nature must be expensive, especially since it also involves liquid hydrogen shipping and distribution..

Roger Pham

The entire governments of Japan, Germany, and Western Europe are all in for Hydrogen to replace fossil fuel, for a simple reason that they don't have any more oil and gas reserve left, and can no longer get gas and petroleum from Russia. The oil companies in Europe like Shell, BP, Total, etc...have no choice but to join in, or else they will no longer have any business. So, Hydrogen development is an international concerted effort.


We are pleased that Toyota found the design error and fixed it.
Now the H2 car can race.

Information from Europe about the H2:
Europe and Germany in particular came very late to the realization that H2 can and will soon replace petroleum fuels in a sustainable manner. The production of H2 has become very easy and different qualities are produced depending on the use in the fuel cell or in a vehicle with ICE - it`s the purity of the H2 and this affects the price. Of course, the production quantities are increasing every day as more and more production facilities are being built worldwide. By the way, Asia, USA and Europe are already the most important markets for H2. And don't forget that HVO diesel and e-fuels are already available at relatively normal prices per liter. The customers and the market make the decisions, and after just a few years it works very well. It's good if you're open to technology and don't believe in any doctrine like WE do!

Currently, the kg H2 costs only 1 euro and thus as much as CNG.

Roger Pham

The first advantage of H2-ICE over H2-FC is that the engine can use unpure H2 thus lower cost to produce.

The second advantage of H2-ICE is that it can use a mixture of H2 and Natural Gas or just straight NG, whenever H2 is in short supply, thus increasing the versatility of the vehicle. Natural gas even at lower pressure can double the range of the vehicle due to higher energy density of NG, thus convenient for long trips. In this way, smaller H2 tank is possible and a single tank running the length of the wheel base at the center line of the car would be sufficient to provide 250-300-mi range on H2 and double that for NG, thus lowering the production cost and provide the same cargo space as a gasoline car. The hybrid HV battery pack can be divided in two, placed below the rear bench seat, while the PHEV version would carry additional battery below the two front seats.

The third advantage of H2-NG-ICE would be major saving in not making new investment in Fuel Cell production facility, investment in massive new Battery plants and e-motors, and can retain highly experienced workers trained in making engines and components of engines. The new investments above can run in the tens of Billion of $.

The fourth advantage of H2-NG-ICE would be that local mechanics who have been servicing gas-electric hybrids can work on the car, instead of requiring Fuel Cells specialists.

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