Following a fire that occurred during a test of the liquid hydrogen-powered Toyota GR Corolla H2 Concept, Toyota has said that the vehicle will compete for the first time at the Fuji 24 Hours in May.
The fire is stated to have been caused by a loose connection within the hydrogen supply piping, with hydrogen leaking and subsequently igniting and burning surrounding components. The leak occurred from the joint nearest to the engine, following its exposure to powertrain movement and vibration. When the failure occurred and the fire started, a safety system built into the vehicle shut off the hydrogen supply in under 0.1 seconds, extinguishing the fire and ensuring no further damage or injury was caused to the vehicle or driver. The Toyota team will work on modifications to the connection to isolate it from heat sources and stop the hydrogen supply if a leak occurs in the future.
“Given a spark, gasoline will burn in any environment. Hydrogen, on the other hand, only ignites at certain concentrations and temperatures,” commented Tomoya Takahashi, president of the Gazoo Racing Company. “Specifically, it needs a 4% concentration in air and a temperature of at least 550˚C – hydrogen will not ignite under any other conditions.”
“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,” explained Koji Sato, president of Toyota. “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.”
“I see it as par for the course in the world of racing,” said Akio Toyoda, chairman, Toyota. “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.”