Toyota builds experimental hydrogen-powered pizza oven

And a hydrogen grill, too: Toyota says cooking with hydrogen makes food taste better

Toyota's hydrogen-powered stone oven
Toyota's hydrogen-powered stone oven
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Grilling season has officially started, and Toyota believes it has the answer to the decades-old "charcoal versus propane" debate: None of the above. The brand teamed up with an appliance company named Rinnai to build what it calls the world's first hydrogen-powered stone oven. And, because not everyone has a gig as a pizzaiolo listed somewhere on their resume, it also built a small hydrogen-burning barbecue.

Even for Rinnai, a Japanese brand that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2020, making a hydrogen-powered cooker was easier said than done. There's nothing like it on the market, so there are no safety standards to use as guidelines. That's why Toyota enlisted a partner: it knows how to make hydrogen-powered cars that don't explode and Rinnai knows how to make ovens and furnaces that don't explode.

The oven features technology derived from the Mirai, including the system used to supply and monitor hydrogen. It also relies on the same type of control system that Rinnai puts in its furnaces. Precisely how it works hasn't been detailed, but Toyota notes that hydrogen, which has a high combustion temperature, combines with oxygen to produce steam as it burns. Visually, the stone oven looks like a regular pizza oven with a dome, a chimney, and a half-circle-shaped slot that the pizza goes into. It's on wheels, so it can be moved around as needed.

Toyota's employees have been testing the oven by making pizzas and croissants. The brand hasn't published its dough recipe yet, however.

Toyota argues that cooking with hydrogen makes food taste better. "Take things like mushrooms and vegetables. While these ingredients tend to dry out on a wood or charcoal barbecue, hydrogen cooks more quickly, leaving them bursting with moisture and delicious flavors."

Beyond better-cooked portobello mushrooms, Toyota hopes you'll buy a hydrogen-powered car after grilling with a hydrogen barbecue. In the Japanese company's words, "making hydrogen feel like part of every day life is a crucial first step in creating a hydrogen society." 

There's no word on whether Toyota and Rinnai will bring their hydrogen-powered stone oven to the market, or if it's going to remain at the prototype stage (much to the delight of the employees assigned to the project). As for the barbecue, the company has already started using it at motorsport events like the WRC Rally Challenge, which is a program it started in 2015 to prepare young rookie drivers for rally racing.

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