The UK’s first hydrogen-fuelled radio controlled (RC) car has been revealed during a unique test-drive in an appropriately miniature-scale setting at the Old New Inn Model Village in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.
Setting out to show what can be achieved at opposite ends of the mobility scale with fuel cell technology, Toyota brought together experts from Bramble Energy, a company specialising in innovative hydrogen fuel cell technology and applications, and Tamiya UK, to create a 1/10 scale replica of its new Mirai hydrogen saloon, fuelled by hydrogen and using a miniaturised fuel cell. The result of the experiment is revealed in a new Toyota short film:
Just like its full-size sibling, the Tamiya RC model excels when it comes to driving range. The new Mirai can cover up to 400 miles on a tank of hydrogen. The Tamiya mini-Mirai can cover twice the distance of an equivalent, conventional battery-powered RC car.
Toyota undertook this challenge to showcase the potential for hydrogen to be used in multiple ways. On the more traditional front for Toyota, its 20-plus year hydrogen research and development programme led to the launch of its first production fuel cell car in 2015, the first generation Mirai. Continuing to pioneer fuel cell technology and following this year’s launch of the all-new Mirai, Toyota is increasing its fuel cell production ten-fold to 30,000 units a year. This will enable the expansion of fuel cell technology into broader forms of transport and haulage, as well as industrial energy applications.
David Rogers, Toyota (GB) spokesperson on alternative fuels, commented: “Cars are the tip of the iceberg for Toyota in terms of progress towards a hydrogen society. Hydrogen will play a key role in meeting our future energy needs, bringing zero emission driving for both big cities and small villages. It allows us to store renewable energy and transport it easily, so that it can be used on demand to power a variety of industries. In Toyota collaborations across Europe you’ll increasingly see trials of fuel cell-powered buses, trains, boats and, who knows, maybe even homes. We undertook this challenge to have some fun and show what can be done with fuel cells and we think the results are great!”
Tom Mason, CEO and Co-Founder of Bramble Energy, commented: “Bramble Energy’s innovative PCB fuel cell is highly adaptable and scalable, meaning that we are able to make fuel cells of any shape or size. We had to shrink a whole fuel cell system down to the size of an RC car, which gave our engineers a good challenge. Our fuel cell technology is made from the printed circuit board industry which can be turned into any size or shape, so the core fuel cell component was actually not that big a challenge. The biggest hurdle was to make all the system components required to run the fuel cell small and compact enough to fit onto the Tamiya TT02 chassis and inside the Mirai RC car shell.”
Alistair Brebner from Tamiya UK said: “We believe these adapted hydrogen-powered Tamiya cars are the first hydrogen fuel cell RC cars in the UK, and they mirror the way full-size vehicles will be powered in the future. It’s been great to see them in action at the model village; they performed really well. It’s been fascinating to take a standard Tamiya TT-02 radio-controlled car that you can buy in a shop and convert it to some innovative hydrogen technology so that run time is much improved, without losing any of the great performance that’s synonymous with Tamiya. While we are a long way off being able to offer a hydrogen powered RC car for purchase, this challenge has proved that a scaled down and adaptable version of H2 can be a superb energy platform for our cars. The route Toyota is taking with hydrogen fuel cell technology is very exciting, with lots of environmental and efficiency benefits. Adapting its use to 1/10 scale Tamiya RC vehicles highlights the future possibilities for a hydrogen society.”
Notes to editors
How the hydrogen-powered RC car was made
- One of Tamiya’s popular TT-02 RC cars was converted into a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by Bramble Energy. A mould was created for a 1/10 scale replica of the full-size new generation Toyota Mirai, in the same Scarlet Flare red as the full-size Mirai.
- Bramble Energy fitted a miniaturised version of its printed circuit board fuel cell (PCBFC) system, a control system and hydrogen storage, into the standard four-wheel drive RC chassis – the exact same one that is readily available in model shops.
The specially commissioned Tamiya RC body shell was then fitted over the RC chassis.
- The Bramble Energy system provides power of around 20 Watts, with double the running time capacity compared to a conventional battery powered RC car.
- The car is fitted with two hydrogen fuel canisters which are switchable, allowing for quick replacement when fuel runs out.