Toyota, Yamaha working on hydrogen-burning V8 engine

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Yamaha and Toyota are collaborating on a hydrogen-fueled 5.0-liter V8 motor that could keep the internal combustion engine alive for decades to come.

Yamaha is developing a hydrogen-burning V8.

Yamaha is taking the lead on the project, which has the potential to create a powerful piston engine without any tailpipe emissions.

“We are working toward achieving carbon neutrality by 2050,” Yamaha Motor president Yoshihiro Hidaka said. “At the same time, ‘Motor’ is in our company name and we accordingly have a strong passion for and level of commitment to the internal combustion engine.”

The Lexus LC luxury sports car is one of Toyota's vehicles that currently uses a V8.

The Lexus LC luxury sports car is one of Toyota’s vehicles that currently uses a V8.

The brands, along with Kawaskia, Subaru and Mazda last year announced an initiative to find carbon-neutral alternatives to electrification for the automotive sector. Burning hydrogen primarily produces water vapor along with a small amount of nitrogen oxides, but no carbon dioxide.

“Everyone who came to test-drive the prototype car would start off somewhat skeptical, but emerged from the car with a big smile on their face at the end,” team member Takeshi Yamada said. “As I watched this, I started to believe that there is actually enormous potential in the characteristics unique to hydrogen engines instead of simply treating it as a substitute for gasoline.”

Yamada said a key goal of the project is to retain the sensual and exhilarating performance provided by an internal combustion engine, compared to the near-silent operation of an electric motor. The engine is rated at 450 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque and features a novel eight-into-one exhaust system that Yamada says creates a unique high frequency exhaust note. 

The V8 features a novel eight-into-one exhaust manifold that gives it a signature sound.

The V8 features a novel eight-into-one exhaust manifold that gives it a signature sound.

“This is a challenge we can sink our teeth into as engineers and I personally want to pursue not just performance but also a new allure for the internal combustion engine that the world has yet to see,” Yamada said.

Other automakers, including Porsche and Lamborghini, have been studying ways to build internal combustion engines that can meet the upcoming environmental regulations, including the use of carbon-neutral synthetic fuels. The issue with hydrogen is that the manufacturing process of the gas is energy intensive and often produces large amounts of carbon dioxide, but new methods are being developed to avoid this.

Yamaha didn’t say what kind of vehicle the V8 was intended for, but the only Toyota products that have used one recently are its full-size trucks and Lexus performance models.

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