Click above for a gallery of the Toyota FCHV cutaway display

Toyota first began researching hydrogen fuel cells way back in in the '90s, and the Japanese automaker has continually refined the drivetrain and platform that houses it ever since. We got the chance to drive the latest FCHV a few months ago, so we were naturally interested to see what makes these cars tick. Fortunately for us, Toyota put a cutaway of one of the hydrogen-powered SUVs on display here at the Chicago Auto Show. See our gallery below.

In its latest configuration, the FCHV features four separate storage tanks that keep the hydrogen compressed to 10,000 psi. After the compressed gas leaves those tanks, it flows through regulators that reduce the pressure to something the PEM fuel cell stack can process. A fresh fill of hydrogen allows the FCHV to travel up to 350 miles.

In order to keep a full load of electrons flowing to the 90 kW permanent magnet, DC electric motor, Toyota equips the FCHV with a 21 kW nickel metal hydride battery pack, similar to what's used in the automaker's line of hybrids. When decelerating, the electric motor operates as a generator and assists in recharging the battery. Pretty cool stuff, huh?

Related GalleryChicago 2009: Toyota FCHV cutaway display

Live photos copyright ©2009 Jeremy Korzeniewski / Weblogs, Inc.