They say you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to answer most questions, but on the subject of the potential of hydrogen to fuel internal combustion engines, I’ve turned to one.

So let me acknowledge the direct help of David Peilow in creating this column.

The spark for it came from the announcement that Toyota and Yamaha had teamed up to modify the Lexus RC F’s naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 to run on hydrogen.

Its creators talked enthusiastically of its five-year development cycle to date, engaging sound and performance and the potential for the technology to be applied to production cars and bikes in the future.

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But while car enthusiasts celebrated the potential for saving many of the characteristics of a petrol engine with fewer of the emissions that threaten its ongoing existence, Peilow provided a dose of reality that puts into context the challenges ahead and laid bare the chance of such tech ever appearing on our roads.

His calculation is based on the Toyota Corolla that raced at Fuji earlier this year with a 1.6-litre three cylinder engine fuelled by four 700 bar hydrogen fuel tanks totalling 180 litres.

That’s 7.06kg of hydrogen, which was good for – wait for it – 31 miles of range.

In fact, in the race, it averaged 28 miles between stops and covered just 994 miles over the 24 hours – around half the distance of the winner, and all at an average speed of 42mph.

The fuel had to be transported to the circuit in four giant tankers, too.

We know that hydrogen can achieve more outside of a race environment; a BMW 7 Series that could do 125 miles on 8kg of hydrogen was on sale until 2016.

But even then that Corolla racer would need a 540-litre fuel tank to achieve the same efficiency as a Toyota Mirai, which uses hydrogen to generate electricity for powering motors.

At that point, the boot, back seats and passenger seat have likely become a high-pressure fuel tank – and, what’s more, one that at today’s hydrogen prices would cost £210 to fill.