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Toyota to build first MW-scale 100% renewable power and hydrogen generation station

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota Motor North America announced that it will build the world’s first megawatt-scale carbonate fuel cell power generation plant with a hydrogen fueling station to support its operations at the Port of Long Beach. The Tri-Gen facility will use bio-waste sourced from California agricultural waste to generate water, electricity and hydrogen.

When it comes online in 2020, Tri-Gen will generate approximately 2.35 MW of electricity and 1.2 tons of hydrogen per day, enough to power the equivalent of about 2,350 average-sized homes and meet the daily driving needs of nearly 1,500 vehicles.

The power generation facility will be 100% renewable, supplying Toyota Logistics Services’ (TLS) operations at the Port and making them the first Toyota facility in North America to use 100% renewable power.

For more than twenty years, Toyota has been leading the development of fuel cell technology because we understand the tremendous potential to reduce emissions and improve society. Tri-Gen is a major step forward for sustainable mobility and a key accomplishment of our 2050 Environmental Challenge to achieve net zero CO2 emissions from our operations.

—Doug Murtha, Group Vice President-Strategic Planning

Tri-Gen is a key step forward in Toyota’s work to develop a hydrogen society. In addition to serving as a key proof-of-concept for 100% renewable, local hydrogen generation at scale, the facility will supply all Toyota fuel cell vehicles moving through the Port, including new deliveries of the Mirai sedan and Toyota’s Heavy Duty hydrogen fuel cell class 8 truck, known as Project Portal. (Earlier post.) To support these refueling operations, Toyota has also built one of the largest hydrogen fueling stations in the world on-site with the help of Air Liquide.

Tri-Gen has been developed by FuelCell Energy with the support of the US Department of Energy, California agencies including the California Air Resources Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Orange County Sanitation District, and the University of California at Irvine, whose research helped develop the core technology.

The facility exceeds California’s strict air quality standards and advances the overall goals of the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission, and the Air Quality Management Districts of the South Coast and the Bay Area, who have been leaders in the work to reduce emissions and improve air quality.

Going forward, Toyota remains committed to supporting the development of a consumer-facing hydrogen infrastructure to realize the potential of fuel cell vehicles. Thirty-one retail hydrogen stations are now open for business in California, and Toyota continues to partner with a broad range of companies to develop new stations. That includes a partnership with Shell that represents the first such collaboration between a major automotive and major oil company.



2.35 MW sounds large until you realize that the diesel engine in a modern freight locomotive is about 3.3 MW. It is not clear from the article how the waste is being converted to electric power and/or hydrogen.


1200 kg of H2 per day, and the efficient use of resources are the more important things to focus on, sd.

Check out this link for more info in tri-gen:


More Hydrogen hype. It's a Solid Oxide FC that reforms methane to H2. Presumably they're getting the methane from anaerobic digestion of organic wastes


What are you talking about?

' Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell (MCFC)
Molten carbonate fuel cells use an electrolyte composed of a molten carbonate salt mixture suspended in a porous, chemically inert matrix, and operate at high temperatures - approximatelly 1,200ºF. They require carbon dioxide and oxygen to be delivered to the cathode. To date, MCFCs have been operated on hydrogen, carbon monoxide, natural gas, propane, landfill gas, marine diesel, and simulated coal gasification products. 10 kW to 2 MW MCFCs have been tested on a variety of fuels and are primarily targeted to electric utility applications.

Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC)
Solid oxide fuel cells use a hard, non-porous ceramic compound as the electrolyte, and operate at very high temperatures - around 1800°F. One type of SOFC uses an array of meter-long tubes, and other variations include a compressed disc that resembles the top of a soup can. Tubular SOFC designs are closer to commercialization and are being produced by several companies around the world. SOFCs are suitable for stationary applications as well as for auxiliary power units (APUs) used in vehicles to power electronics.'

And they state that the methane is from biological sources so there is no need to presume anything.


This may not please a few anti-hydrogen posters but it will give support to H2 economy and help to keep pollution and GHG lower.

A hand to Toyota for continued participation.

Tri-Gen will generate approximately 2.35 MW of electricity and 1.2 tons of hydrogen per day

So at 33 kWh/kg this comes to an equivalent hydrogen power of 1.65 megawatts, total useful power about 4 MW.  The carbonate fuel cell is being used as both an electric generator and a chemical reformer.

It is not clear from the article how the waste is being converted to electric power and/or hydrogen.

It's being gasified (possibly with waste heat from the MCFC, maybe autothermally) and then the gas is processed further.  I'd bet that hydrogen is being extracted from gas before the MCFC.

This may not please a few anti-hydrogen posters

There's not nearly enough biomass to run the economy, or even just vehicular transport, on these things.  It's greenwashing, Harvey.


Interesting project. The main question is efficiency, I doubt this Tri-Gen efficiency (electricity+hydrogen) is higher than generating only electricity in combined cycle gas turbine.

Am I wrong?


Some more details here:

'FuelCell Energy’s distributed hydrogen solution co-produces hydrogen and clean power from methane based fuels such as renewable biogas. The methane is reformed to hydrogen using water and heat produced by the fuel cell, resulting in clean hydrogen production without water consumption. In January 2016 the California Air Resources Board (CARB) certified a prospective pathway for hydrogen production with this technology fueled by biogas. CARB's team performed a complete Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) on the system and determined that it has a negative carbon intensity, as the power and hydrogen generation process is carbon-neutral due to the use of renewable biogas and the fuel cell waste heat is used to feed the internal reformation reactions.'

As for the accusation that this is greenwashing due to the limited nature of the biomass resource, around 10% of California's light vehicle fleet can be run just on this currently wasted resource, so its not being a total solution is unduly harsh.

Were biomass the only potential source of hydrogen then maybe the criticism would have some merit, but this forum is replete with other rapidly advancing hydrogen production technologies from renewables or with carbon capture.


To a well know poster, the word hydrogen is equivalent to greenwashing. It may help with his poems.


Green H2 production technologies are advancing at a fast rate, from various feed stocks or sources, from reduced non-renewables to fully renewables.

Since H2 can be stored and easily transported, intermittent solar energy may become one of the main clean long term source. Wind energy is another clean RE source possibility.


I am all for the efficient use of resources and I back the use of otherwise wasted energy sources. However, what is the efficiency of this process? Is it more efficient than running a co-generation Brayton/Rankin combined cycle (gas turbine/steam turbine)? I would be surprised if it is.


There's no combustion. The efficiency must be pretty high because the fuel cell is probably 60% efficient, then the waste energy from that is used to produce hydrogen.

It is also easier to capture CO2 from a fuel cell process than a gas turbine process.


BT good comment, welcome to GreenCar.



Where did you get the idea that hydrogen is easy to store and/or transport. On of the major problems with hydrogen is that has an extremely low density even as a liquid and the boiling point is -253 C or about -423 F. It is usually compressed to about 7000 PSI which is not easy. It also causes hydrogen embrittlement in many metals further complicating storage or transport. In adition, it forms an explosive mixture with air in a range of 4% to 74% hydrogen.


4-74% is a worry.
I noted GCC article that Japan recently (proposed?) amended? regulations to drastically reduce the legislation regarding locating H storage to decrease the safety zone for permitting.
The red tape was deemed too onerous and severe impediment to development.

Roger Pham

Pipeline system can be used to transport Hydrogen just like Natural Gas. Natural Gas reservoirs can be used to store vast quantity of Hydrogen, enough for an entire season or more. One just need to imagine replacing Nature Gas with Hydrogen and it will be very easy.


LPG-air mixtures is from 5.0% to 15.6% of NG and from 1.84% to 8.54% of LPG by volume respectively.

The pictures (google) show this NG bus recently fitted with fire supression system burnt to the waterline.

NSW State Transit bus explodes into flames on Flinders St Surry Hills
5 days ago - A SYDNEY bus exploded into flames on the edge of Surry Hills and Moore Park with the flames leaping 2m into the air and smoke billowing across four ... all private and state transit buses were fitted with a fire suppression system since a bus fire in 2016 caused traffic chaos on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

And Bri

I said last year to commercialize gas-hydrogen cars where you pick up cheap hydrogen gas while you can but you are never caught empty because there is gas if there is no hydrogen available. Also a cylinder mix of hydrogen gas with some gasoline increase gas burning rate and speed of flame reducing engine drag and wasted heat true the cylinder head. It's not because i own and drive a small ice caer that i really likeit, so commercialize rightaway a cheaper better car made in zimbawe builded with recycled waste metal at 10 000$ new.



You can add a small percentage of hydrogen to natural gas and use the natural gas facilities and burn it as natural gas but you can not just replace natural gas with hydrogen and run it down a pipeline. Hydrogen and natural gas are not interchangeable. They do not burn at all the same and they do not compress the same.


Should read Flamibility range for:
LPG-air mixtures is from 5.0% to 15.6% of NG and from 1.84% to 8.54% of LPG by volume respectively.

While N.G. (methane) contains hydrogen as a component,

:According to 2014 CODATA the Bohr radius has a value of5.2917721067(12)×10−11 m

H is a very small molecule and will find or 'leak its way through smaller fissures or pathways at a much higher rate.

A useful comparison chart for visualising can be viewed.


This definitely sounds like "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" using Dairy Cow manure instead of pig manure.
Toyota may have found a niche for their FC trucks. Elon Musk did say 80% of Class 8 trucks travel under 400 miles. So maybe manure powered trucks can take care of the other 20%.
If you would like to read a little more about the FuelCell Energy Tri-Gen System there is a white paper on their web site (


Seriously, burning BioGas is a renewable energy source and removes a potent greenhouse gas from the air (according to a 2013 United Nations report, Livestock are responsible for 14.5% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, with beef and dairy production accounting for the bulk of it) and California ranks #1 among U.S. states for methane production potential from biogas sources. Reference:
So we are only looking at 5% of the transportation fuel, i.e. 20% Class 8 trucks and the California Milk Producers Council will greatly appreciate the help Toyota will provide in reducing methane emissions from their dairy and livestock operations.

To a well know poster, the word hydrogen is equivalent to greenwashing.
Because it's being pushed by known greenwashers.
It may help with his poems.

Of all the frauds I've ever seen,
The biggest is the wash that's green.
It takes the eco-minded fool
And sticks him with a fossil fuel.

Since H2 can be stored and easily transported

Not nearly easily enough to compete with oil or natural gas.  Alcohols are much easier to transport than hydrogen, having dozens or hundreds of times the volumetric energy density.

what is the efficiency of this process?

The article doesn't say.  There's roughly 4 MW electrical+chemical output.  We aren't told how much bio-methane goes in to make this.

The efficiency must be pretty high

You'd hope it is, but without numbers we're just guessing here.  Maybe you can dig up typical figures for MCFC efficiency and see if the operating temperatures are high enough to reform methane to hydrogen, then guess at the potential.  I'd prefer measurements, which are conspicuously absent.

Natural Gas reservoirs can be used to store vast quantity of Hydrogen

Not necessarily, Roger.  Adding hydrogen to any reservoir with sulfur in its rocks is problematic; you can get bacterial metabolism to H2S, which is not just polluting but highly toxic.

we are only looking at 5% of the transportation fuel

Precisely right, gryf.  And the NG industry would love to have the rest.  Greenwashing.


I'm not really concerned with the talk of greenwashing, if it is or isn't, it's probably replacing something that was worse, before it was implemented.

I really try and use all our resources in the most responsible ways: Socially, economically realistically, and environmentally.

I'm not a huge fan of nuclear, but i see if it's done right its a decent carbon neutral fuel.

Having said that, these "evil" private corporations that may or may not sell oil derived products are no more or less evil than any other company I have seen.

We are on the verge of significantly cheaper/ more efficient hydrogen. We have a way to reform it with very little waste. Based on our current state of affairs, this turns hydrogen into a very low carbon fuel, possibly beating BEVs on the typical grid here in the states. The notion of this probably doesn't rest well with most of you on here.

Having said all that.

Efficiency doesn't matter. This is a waste stream that would likely go unused if it were not for Toyota, could there be better options? Sure, but they didn't present themselves.

Perhaps these new hydrogen catalysts can be used to even greater effect for waste production.

If we gain something, where we would have otherwise gained nothing i don't think we should be too critical. Humans generate tons of waste, if we can use that to displace other resources, while cleaning it up, i think it's a general win.

I don't know the fiscal details, but i imagine, if this is either a for loss prototype, or even a revenue stream for Toyota they will benefit from this some how.


Also, i would like to add that hydrogen is very easy to distribute, they can add it to natural gas lines that feed homes/businesses almost everywhere in the typical urban centers.

They have means of syphoning it off from the natural gas lines.

Also, with these proposed new catalysts to reform hydrogen from methane. Hydrogen can be made almost anywhere with electricity and natural gas flowing to it. If they are as disruptive as they claim, i could see industry bringing large scale units online within 5 years or less. As many of the anti hydrogen crowd has expressed, reforming from methane, the current standard, is not very efficient compared to the new catalyzed process.


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