Toyota Built An Engine That Can Capture Carbon From The Air

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Toyota’s noble effort to save the internal combustion engine is producing some interesting new technology. The automaker has been testing a filter system that can actually capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But it has a long way to go before it’s ready for mainstream production.

Toyota installed the tech on the hydrogen combustion engine it’s been testing in the GR Corolla race car. The filter system works by capturing the carbon dioxide that’s then released into a fluid using the engine’s own heat, and it doesn’t require additional energy.

Sadly, it’ll be a while before this tech on your next Prius or Tacoma. The filter collects too little carbon to offset the average gasoline engine and needs to be constantly replaced. The race car only filtered out about 20 grams of carbon dioxide over 20 laps, which isn’t very much. For context, a gasoline car can emit nearly 8,900 grams of CO2 per gallon consumed.

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Toyota bucked industry trends earlier this month when chairman Akio Toyoda announced a “major engine development project” at a time when its competitors are investing everything into battery-electric vehicles. The Japanese automaker hasn’t been as eager to put all its chips into EVs just yet, forecasting slower adoption and reduced market penetration while touting a broader approach to achieving carbon neutrality.

Toyota believes gasoline engines, hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles will continue to exist. It and other automakers are also working on hydrogen-combustion engines, which are nearly carbon neutral. Adding the filter to such an engine would make it carbon-negative, but Toyota says the tech can work on a gasoline engine, too.