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Toyota turns up the heat, will test hydrogen cars in Middle East

It's heading to the heart of oil country to test a car that helps reduce reliance on the ol' black gold.


Part of exploring a newish fuel is figuring out the locations where it will have a real effect. That's why Toyota is heading to the United Arab Emirates with its Mirai fuel-cell vehicle.

Toyota will start testing its hydrogen-powered Mirai in the UAE, Reuters reports. The goal is to see whether hydrogen fuel-cell technology will have an impact in the area's hot, arid landscape. It's partnering up with a UAE-based green energy firm and two utility providers to research the production and logistics of hydrogen fuel in the Middle East.

Maybe more people would buy one if it looked a little less...weird.


It's a ballsy move, because the Arabian Peninsula is perhaps best known for its oil production, some of which ends up as good ol' gasoline. Toyota's hydrogen car is all about reducing reliance on the stuff, so it will be interesting to see how well a fuel-cell vehicle is received in that neck of the woods.

"As the (UAE) government continues to promote new initiatives and pursues the creation of a hydrogen-based society, the UAE is able to emerge as the world leader of next-generation clean energies," said Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota's chairman, in a statement.

Expanding the hydrogen infrastructure needs to be Toyota's immediate goal, no matter where it does so. Its sole fuel-cell car, the Mirai, can only be sold in certain locations where compressed hydrogen gas is stored and pumped like gasoline. It's an issue that limits Toyota's reach with this fledgling technology, but if gas prices go back up, there may be greater attention toward expanding the number of hydrogen filling stations.

Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles run on compressed hydrogen gas instead of liquid gasoline. A catalyst splits the hydrogen gas into electrons and hydrogen ions. The flow of electrons produces a current, which goes to the battery, while the remaining ions mix with oxygen on the other side of the fuel cell and produce water, which is the only byproduct of the fuel cell.

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