21 November 2014

Toyota Mirai

Has fracking killed the Mirai before it even started?

I wonder how many motorists feel uneasy about the world consuming over 90 million barrels of oil a day. I do, as it seems an unnecessary waste of a resource that will run out. It raises issues of how the burning of fossil fuels affects the environment. Besides, I just hate a wasteful attitude and seeing any wastage.

Therefore, I am all for new technology that is kind on the environment and doesn't consume finite resources. It's one of the reasons I see little point in updating my car. It runs well and buying another fossil fuel consumer is hardly the way I want to go. I may be forced to eventually if this shortsighted society doesn't offer a reasonable alternative.

That is why the Toyota Mirai caught my attention. It is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell system that produces its own electricity. The stored hydrogen is fed from a pressurised fuel tank into the fuel cell, where it is combined with oxygen. The ensuing chemical reaction produces electricity and only water vapour is emitted from the exhaust pipe. The distance it can travel is up to 500km (300 miles) and takes a few minutes to refuel.

Hydrogen can be produced in various ways and choosing what is better for the environment would be the logical way to obtain it. Unfortunately few countries have a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. So it comes down to the cost of setting that up against using existing petrol stations with a product that is getting cheaper - for now at least. So the Mirai will be a vehicle with limited opportunity. Toyota would have started development when fuel prices were on the increase. Still, it's ready when needed - but when will that be I wonder?

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