Norway Science

Driving a Mirai

I got to ride in a hydrogen-fueled car the other day. Technically, I can’t admit to driving it – if I’m understanding Statens vegvesen correctly, I’m not allowed to drive with a foreign license after being a Norwegian resident for longer than three months. But I will say that when the car was returned to its owner, the driver beeped at the owner and yelled “Get in, loser,” a reference to a popular American film that was completely lost on a slightly older Norwegian man. He stared, puzzled, trying to work out who the hell was driving his car.

This car is a Toyota Mirai. It’s powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which takes hydrogen gas from a tank onboard the car and oxygen from the nearby air, and reacts them to produce electricity and water. The electricity either powers electric motors to turn the wheels or charges a battery, saving the energy for later. The water is vented out the tailpipe. This makes the car quick, smooth, and eerily quiet, and it doesn’t emit carbon dioxide because it doesn’t burn gasoline.