Tag: toyota hydrogen fuel cell
By now most people have heard of hydrogen fuel cells being used in vehicles like the Toyota Mirai to move them around the road without utilizing fossil fuels to do the job. This technology is pretty cool, and it works surprisingly well, but so far it isn’t’ all that practical on a wide-scale. That’s because hydrogen isn’t widely available just yet, and it could be quite a while before there are enough hydrogen refueling facilities to keep cars running all over the world. That’s one of the reasons that Toyota has been toying with the idea of a natural gas fuel cell instead.
A Natural Gas Fuel Cell
Just like the hydrogen fuel cell, a natural gas fuel cell would be used to generate electricity to drive a vehicle down the road. The main difference is that it will use natural gas rather than pure hydrogen. The natural gas would be split into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and both substances would be used to generate electricity for the vehicle. The fuel cell stack on its own will generate electricity at around 53 percent efficiency, but by putting a heat reclaimer in the system Toyota is able to reach efficiency levels around 65 percent, which is better than its current hydrogen fuel cell.
Not as Helpful to Climate change
One of the major criticisms of this new technology is that burning natural gas is not as good for the environment as hydrogen fuel could be if it was produced using renewable resources, and that’s absolutely true. AT the moment hydrogen isn’t being produced with renewable resources though, and it’s being created with fossil fuels. In other words, relying on a natural gas fuel cell over a hydrogen fuel cell could actually be better for the environment currently. That’s because natural gas contributes less to climate change than gas or diesel fuel does. Making the switch to another fossil fuel might not seem like the right move to help mitigate climate change, but at the moment it’s a step that actually makes quite a bit of sense.
Maybe Not for Vehicle Use
While Toyota is experimenting with this new technology, at the moment it only seems like it’s destined for businesses and residential use to generate power for local energy needs. It isn’t being tested for vehicle use just yet, and it’s possible that the tech will never be used in vehicles. Even still, it’s interesting to look at different technologies and ways of doing things.
Toyota has a vision for the future, and it includes full-sized city buses that run on hydrogen fuel. The automaker is already developing the buses and plans to have them out and running on the streets before the 2020 Olympic games. The buses that all run on hydrogen fuel don’t produce any pollution during operation, and they provide the same performance that standard diesel buses offer today.
They Function as Generators
One of the coolest features of these buses is that they can be used as highly reliable generators in times of emergency. That means that power could be provided to sections of the country that need it most if the grid happened to go down. In emergency situations such as hurricanes and other natural disasters, this could be a helpful feature that would certainly be valuable to have around.
Three Times the Power of a Tesla Model S
In order to offer enough power to effectively drive the buses around, Toyota developed a system significantly more power than that what runs the Mirai. The system relies on a series of 10 pressure tanks that hold a total of 600 liters of compressed hydrogen overall. That gives you a total power output of 235 kWh or about three times the amount that a Tesla Model S can put out. That’s a source of power that could really help in an emergency situation.
Achieving Clean Hydrogen Fuel
The one major criticism that still surrounds hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is that they don’t currently operate on clean fuel, because the hydrogen they use is formed from methane and other potentially harmful fuel types. This is an issue that Toyota is working hard to resolve, but the important consideration to make, is that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles could be fueled entirely by clean energy sources in the future, something that fossil fuel-based vehicles can’t argue.
Toyota continues to push out hydrogen fuel-cell technologies as Japan works toward a fully hydrogen-based society in the future, and that’s a technology that could be adopted in the United States as well. Sure electric vehicles are more efficient, but hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles run on fuel that can be pumped into the vehicles as needed. The full-sized buses that Toyota is developing is an exciting infrastructure enhancement that should show off how capable hydrogen vehicles are, and it will be interesting to see how they do once they’re finally released in Japan.
There’s no arguing that the Toyota Mirai is a revolutionary vehicle, but such revolutionary technology comes at a cost, and that cost is about $50,000. That’s more than many car buyers are willing to spend, or can afford to spend. When the first wide-spread hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is selling for so much money, it keeps most people from being able to take advantage of the technology. Toyota is working to refine the technology that the Mirai relies on, to create a smaller, more affordable version for 2019.
Does that Mean a New Model or Mirai?
At the moment it’s unclear if Toyota means to create another hydrogen fuel cell model to compete alongside the Mirai, or to just further refine the Mirai and stop offering the original once the new and lest costly version is released.
A More Affordable Hydrogen Car By 2020
Toyota is the sponsor of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, and it would be the perfect stage to present an all-new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to the masses. With billions of viewers tuning in from around the world, there is literally no better way to get word out about the vehicle, and that’s why Toyota plans on having the vehicle completed before the Olympics.
A Lagging Infrastructure
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is being supported in just a few locations around the world, with Japan being the most enthusiastic proponent of the technology. There are currently around 80 refueling stations in Japan, and somewhere around 11 stations in California. Both of those figures need to go up dramatically for the Mirai to be the massive success that Toyota expects it to be with more than 30,000 models sold by 2020 in the US (around 210 have been sold in the US currently). There are plans for an additional 12 stations within California, and plans to put others up around the United States in large metropolitan areas.
If Toyota is able to get the cost of the Mirai down, much like the automaker did when it released the Prius c, more buyers will be willing to take the risk and buy a vehicle created from such new technology. It’s what Toyota is counting on, and it could be just the thing they need to really get that technology out there to the masses. It’s an exciting time to be a vehicle owner, and it’s likely that some pretty major innovations will be released by Toyota in the near future.
Stop living in the present for a moment and take a look into the future with Toyota. That’s what the car company hoped to achieve when it showed off a highly futuristic concept vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show. The compact vehicle looks like a spaceship on wheels, and it’s designed to hold up to four people while bringing them around using only hydrogen as the fuel source.
Details of the Vehicle
The little spaceship-looking car comes with four in-wheel motors and a fuel cell stack in the front and a hydrogen tank that’s mounted behind the rear seats.
The vehicle doesn’t come fitted with a steering wheel, which is most likely to point to the likelihood of self-driving vehicles in the near future. It’s also fitted to serve as more than just a means to get around town, it could be a means to power it as well. That’s right, this little space ship of a vehicle could be part of the next world power infrastructure.
Generating Power for Town
Each of the vehicles are designed to serve as generators when they aren’t in operation. That means you could drive to the store, drive home, then connect your house up to your car and use it to power a few things that you might need like lights or your television. While the idea doesn’t sound too practical, it could be cool during a natural disaster, much like stories of the Prius serving as a generator were back during some of the major hurricanes, but it mostly shows how much Toyota believes in hydrogen power technology. The company sees it as a sustainable power source of the future and believes that when hydrogen is created from clean energy like solar, geothermal, wind and tidal generators, it can be the source of all our power needs and an effective way to remove issues with pollution.
While this space-age vehicle isn’t likely to make it out on the streets as a popular vehicle option anytime soon, it would make a pretty convincing vehicle of the future, and it points to the truth that hydrogen could make a really major difference in our power infrastructure if adopted along with clean creation methods.
Developing new automotive technologies can be extraordinarily expensive and it makes sense to advance technology in the most affordable way possible. That’s why many car companies are starting to work together to try and lower research and developments costs for new technology. Toyota is considering a partnership with Mazda so that both companies can improve their lineup affordably. Toyota is known for its hybrid and fuel cell technology and Mazda has some highly efficient gas and diesel engines. By sharing these technologies amongst each other both automakers could improve their vehicles noticeably.
An Existing Relationship
Toyota and Mazda already have a mutually beneficial relationship and this latest deal would just be expanding upon the benefits that both are already enjoying. Currently Toyota is making its gas-electric technology for some of Mazda’s lineup and Mazda is working on developing a small car at its Mexico plant for Toyota. Mazda should start development on the vehicle later on this year.
Meeting Strict Emissions Requirements
All around the world governments are cracking down on fuel efficiency and emissions standards. The governments want cleaner vehicles. They want less pollution going into the air and they want their nations to stop depending on fossil fuels so much. What this really means is that automakers have a lot of work ahead of them and they will probably spend a great deal on research and development to meet the new guidelines and remain in operation legally. While some automakers are focusing on lobbying and stopping these new laws, or at least softening the requirements, other car companies are striking up relationships to try and spread these developments costs amongst themselves. With the new Mazda engine technology Toyota will be able to make its lineup more efficient and improve MPG across its lineup. Toyota fans can expect even more impressive vehicles in the future with technology that was only available to Mazda previously. Mazda will be able to make similar changes to its own lineup and will likely begin offering some hybrid and possibly fuel cell cars in the future to help reduce its dependency on gas and diesel.
Mazda plans to form additional partnerships in the future, and with Toyota giving out information and working to expand its fuel cell technology so aggressively it’s likely they will form new partnerships in the future as well. Each new partnership helps bring better more technologically advanced vehicles to the marketplace for everyone to enjoy.
Toyota has just begun production of the Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and the first few models should start rolling around public roadways in the next couple weeks. The car is only being sold in limited locations initially, mainly because there isn’t a hydrogen refueling infrastructure to support the vehicles yet, and it will only be available in small numbers for the first couple years, but Toyota is making it happen and actually producing the highly anticipated vehicles for mass consumption.
Vehicles are Becoming Available Daily
Now that production of the Mirai has begun approximately three new vehicles will roll off the assembly line on a daily basis at the plant. This is just the starting point for vehicle production and it’s set to increase over time. There is a greater demand for the Mirai than expected, especially from Japan, and that’s making it crucial for the plant to begin producing higher volumes of the car over time.
Seeing How its Made
Perhaps in hopes of familiarizing people with hydrogen cars a bit more, Toyota wants the world to know what goes into its newest cars and has put together a series of short videos detailing the construction process. These little “How its Made” videos give you a firsthand look into the Mirai and the hard work involved with building one.
If you would like to see how the Mirai is made you can see the various stages in the videos below.
A Higher Profile Plant
It’s no surprise that the Mirai construction is going to take place at the Motomachi plant in Toyota City Japan. This is where many of the high-profile Toyota and Lexus vehicles are created, and where a vehicle as important as the Mirai should be manufactured. The plant was home to the Lexus LFA supercar, as well as many other high-profile vehicles such as the Supra, the Soarer and the Corona. The plant is known for its highly skilled workforce, and should help improve the quality of the finished product.
About the Mirai
If you haven’t heard much about the Toyota Mirai yet, its the first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and is going to be out on the roads shortly. The vehicle is capable of getting 300 miles on each fill up and generates a total of 153 horsepower. The car costs about $45,000 and only limited numbers will be available during the first few years of production. Toyota hopes that it will pull consumers away from current gasoline powered vehicles and that it becomes the new mainstream form of mobility, but there are still hydrogen production and infrastructure details to work out before the technology becomes mainstream.