Toyota's Lunar Cruiser will be powered by regenerative fuel tech

The crewed vehicle will employ solar energy to conduct electrolysis, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen during extended lunar days.
Ameya Paleja
Toyota's Lunar Cruiser.
Toyota's Lunar Cruiser.


The world's largest carmaker Toyota has revealed that it plans to use regenerative fuel technology for the lunar rover, which is scheduled for launch at the end of this decade, Reuters reported. Toyota is partnering with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for the rover.

In recent years, Japan has been bolstering its ambitions in response to the emerging space race between the US and China. Fifty years after the historic Moon landing, the US is preparing for another lunar mission named Artemis and establishing an outpost called the Gateway in lunar orbit.

Japan plans to have its astronaut at this lunar outpost and, through JAXA, is also working closely with the US on the Artemis Mission. Part of this arrangement is a two-person lunar rover that Toyota is building, which has now been revealed to be powered by regenerative fuel technology.

Toyota's Lunar Cruiser will be powered by regenerative fuel tech
The manned pressurized rover (nicknamed the "Lunar Cruiser") is currently being developed by Toyota Motor Corporation.

Toyota's Lunar Cruiser

Rovers on space missions have used solar energy to generate power and store it in their batteries to be used during the night. On the Moon, though, a single night is the equivalent of 14 days on Earth, and battery-based energy storage is challenging, if not impossible.

Moreover, Toyota's plans for the rover dubbed Lunar Cruiser include a vehicle that can carry two humans for extended periods, such as a month, for stable and long-term exploration of the Moon.

Also, the rover, expected to weigh 10 tons, will have to brave dusty environments and extreme temperatures on the Moon while ensuring that the inhabitants are protected from the elements and continue their explorative work.

Toyota's Lunar Cruiser will be powered by regenerative fuel tech
Toyota's pressurized rover.

Regenerative fuel technology

This is where regenerative fuel technology can help. According to Toyota's recent update on the Lunar Cruiser, the crewed vehicle will use solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis during the long days on the Moon and store it in fuel cells to be used during the night.

The energy stored in the fuel cells will then be converted into electricity and used to power the rover. At first, the water to be used will be sent from Earth. However, in the future, Toyota has not ruled out using water ice from the lunar poles to power its rover.

Lunar Cruiser is expected to have a mission life of 10 years and work for over 42 days a year carrying astronauts on the Moon. This would require a lot of water, and Toyota is hopeful that another space company can figure out the logistics of mining the water ice or transporting the critical ingredient for its fuel cells on the Moon.

Back on Earth, water is not scarce, and Toyota is also looking at using the technology to power its future vehicles. As countries look for ways to move away from fossil fuels, fuel cells are being extensively explored to power transportation.

As the world's largest automotive maker, Toyota is undoubtedly looking for ways its cars can have long-range capabilities without spending tens of minutes charging up.

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