Toyota Extends Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle Range with New Stack and Storage
28 September 2007
|Toyota’s FCHV fuel cell hybrid. Click to enlarge.|
An improved version of Toyota Motor Corporation’s (TMC) fuel cell hybrid vehicle (FCHV) featuring a new, more efficient fuel cell stack, improved control system, and higher-pressure storage system successfully completed a real-world 560-km (348-mile) long-distance road test by traveling from Osaka to Tokyo on a single fueling of hydrogen.
Toyota calculates that the vehicle has a single-fueling cruising range of approximately 750 km (466 miles) in the 10-15 Japanese test cycle. The prior version of the Highlander-based fuel cell hybrid has a cruising range of about 330 km (205 miles), according to Toyota.
The Toyota FCHV used in the trip is 25% more fuel efficient than earlier versions, due to improvements in the TMC-developed Toyota FC Stack fuel cell and to improvements in the control system for managing fuel cell output and battery charging/discharging.
It also features TMC-developed 70Mpa (10,000 psi, 700 bar) high-pressure hydrogen tanks capable of storing approximately twice the amount of hydrogen as the TOYOTA FCHV’s previous 35Mpa high-pressure hydrogen tanks.
The fuel cell hybrid’s battery pack remains the same 21 kW NiMH pack. The other basic performance specs of the improved FCHV also remain the same as those of its predecessor: the fuel cell stack produces 90 kW of output, the 90 kW electric traction motor produces 260 Nm (192 lb-ft) of torque, top speed is 155 km/h (96 mph).
The road test—part of the TOYOTA FCHV’s public-road test program—started in front of the Osaka Prefectural Government Office in central Osaka City and, via the Meishin Expressway, Tomei Expressway and Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway, concluded at the Mega Web automobile-themed amusement facility in Tokyo’s waterfront area, covering approximately 560 kilometers. The entire trip was completed with the air conditioner on and with no need to stop for refueling.
348 mile range??? Wow..that's good. That is getting swiftly in the ball-park of regular ICE range.
Japan would be another great location, (besides China) to start a hydrogen fuel station infrastructure. It can be done in the U.S. too, although we have those long expanse of highway through the midwest where stations would need to be aplenty to keep cross country drivers supplied.
Posted by: Schmeltz | 28 September 2007 at 07:32 AM
Solve the net H2 production problems for mass production and you will have something other than PR vapor here.
Posted by: Lad | 28 September 2007 at 08:26 AM
Until the H2 production problem is solved, as Lad points out, this is nothing more than a perfect example of the observation all programmer know all too well: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.
I'm not saying Toyota faked this 348-mile drive or cooked the books. But doing this with one vehicle says virtually nothing about how well it scales up mainstream proportions.
Posted by: Lou Grinzo | 28 September 2007 at 09:24 AM
Now: how much would this thing cost in mass production?
Posted by: Neil | 28 September 2007 at 10:31 AM
@ Neil -
how many arms and legs do you have?
Posted by: Rafael Seidl | 28 September 2007 at 10:37 AM
H2 production problem?
No sweat. GAsify waste biomass, coal or reforming NG for now, to produce H2. In the future, look toward high-temp electrolysis of solar and wind electricity for H2 production from renewable energy. This may cost several hundred billions dollars, but so does the Iraq War!
The alternative is to gear up for production of gazillion of Kwh's worth of large-size car battery packs for BEV and PHEV's, which will cost trillions of dollars. Just do the math!
Posted by: Roger Pham | 28 September 2007 at 10:37 AM
You are comparing the costs of the batteries versus the cost of producing hydrogen????
You seem to fail to include the cost of "gazillion of kwh" of fuel cells as well.
Don't forget: This toyota has a battery pack in it as well! Maybe this battery pack is 1/10th the cost of a PHEV/EV pack but the fuel cell & high pressure tanks are likely to be greater than twice the cost of an advanced Li-ion battery pack.
Posted by: Patrick | 28 September 2007 at 10:48 AM
Do the math. A 4-kg H2 tank having 140 kwh of energy costs ~$2000 USD. GM, Honda, Huyndai etc. are announcing the release of FCV's in the near future. Recently, there is found a method to reduce the platinum content of FC to 1/100th current level. Once the amount of Platinum is reduced, the other cost of FC in the past is merely due to hand assembly from low-production items. Mass-production and automation will bring down the cost of FC to affordable level.
Also, don't forget that ICE-HEV can run on H2 also.
Posted by: Roger Pham | 28 September 2007 at 11:14 AM
I realize that fuelcell technology is becoming mature
and can be mass produced. As for the prodution of h2 fuel they can use the on-board h2 production from water as invented by stan mayer. It's way better then h2 fuel
tank and an h2 fuel infrastructure. But if car manufacturers stick with plain h2 tank then hydrogen
production and commercialisation at the re-fueling station is possible with all the latest discoveries for h2 production like ammonia to h2, electrolysis of water with the method of stan mayer that need few electricity,
sunlight electrolysis with silicate something, h2 from natural gas, etc.
Posted by: a.b | 28 September 2007 at 11:14 AM
I like the idea of a fuel cell hybrid. 10kwh of batteries might do it with a smaller stack than regular fuel cells. The stack runs at a more constant output, which could help life span and efficiency.
One thing I wonder about, Chrysler used to reform methanol to hydrogen, you could reform natural gas to hydrogen. That would allow refueling on the road and in the garage.
Posted by: sjc | 28 September 2007 at 12:16 PM
One thing about math: it does not apply in a straight forward manner for businesses as you suggest.
I cannot take a Li-ion battery pack and say, "The best W-hr/L + W-hr/kg + W/kg + lowest cost/kW-hr = a better source than a fuel cell" in the same manner that you cannot say, "Take company/university A's best developments for fuel cells + company/university B's best developments for hydrogen storage + company/university C's best developments for the motors" and then add it up to say it is a better solution. You will likely NEVER EVER see such a combination.
BTW - what is the cost of the fuel cell that uses 1/100th of the platinum? What is it's efficiency level, size, and weight when capable of a 90kW output?
Posted by: Patrick | 28 September 2007 at 01:08 PM
Where'd you get that information? I believe $2000 for a tank holding 4 kg of hydrogen is a goal--somebody's estimate of what will be needed to make the system economically feasible. AFAIK, actual costs are between one and two orders of magnitude higher than that.
Posted by: Roger Arnold | 28 September 2007 at 01:10 PM
I can understand the technical fervor in favor of a FCEV. But the economics are forbidding. So is the process for producing lots of H2. You either lots of fossil to make it, or you try to do it via electrolysis. This coming Generation of Nukes don't produce high enough temperatures to materially change the low electrolysis efficiency by preheating H20 steam, hot enough. I'm not sure that you really want to develop Gen IV breeders at all: and even if you did they won't be there until post 2020. What do you do in the meantime?
When you get done you have the same dependency on fossil, just a much greater total inefficiency. More opportunities for oil dictators and war. Sorry it just does not compute.
As regards on board water electrolysis suggestion, I would urge you to get that perpetual motion idea patented as quickly as possible. You can't deoxidize hydrogen dioxide with less energy that you get when you reoxidize it. Sorry. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says so, unfortunately.
There will be specialized applications for Fuel Cells but ground autos are probably not high in the choices. Perhaps they will lend thmselves to aeronautical applicatiosn if a cheap light storage medium is found. Or if they decide that alcohol and reforming will work for the aero apps. But even in that case, you are not comparing to a relqtively inefficient ICE prime mover but to a turbine, which is much more efficient.
Posted by: Stan Peterson | 28 September 2007 at 01:57 PM
Your point is valid. However, the auto mfg's such as Honda, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, M-B etc have already done all the math, and they are betting the future of automotive on FCHV's over that of BEV's. GM seems to be betting equally on both, ergo the E-flex architecture.
R. Arnold, see this link:
In the table at the bottom of the article, the current cost per kwh for the H2 tank is $10-17 /kwh, with 15,000 discharge cycles. Multiply $10 by 140kwh for a 4-kg tank will cost ya $1400 USD. The eventual goal is $2-4 /kwh, which will make H2 storage real cheap in comparison to battery.
Forget about nukes. Don't wanna give the likes of Iran's Amerdinejadh(sp?) and the former Saddam any more excuses to build nuclear facility, do we?
"But the economics [of the H2 economy] are forbidding."(?)
Please re-do the math!
Posted by: Roger Pham | 28 September 2007 at 05:22 PM
The maths, the maths. How about a 90kw fuel cell at $3000 per kw = $270,000. How about 600,000,000 fuel cell cars with 100gms platinum = 60,000 tonnes with world production around 200 tonnes. Reduce platinum content 100 fold and there's still not enough on the planet. I kinda like the idea of a fiercely hot little solid oxide fuel cell with its reforming capability, coupled with a mini steam turbine producing combined cycle electricity for a decent sized battery pack. 70% efficient and the small size plus large battery will reduce start-up and shut-down losses of energy and time. I think fuel cells will replace the ICE but are further off than batteries. Can't see the sense in using H2 in ICE's either.
Posted by: aussie paul | 28 September 2007 at 11:05 PM
you've got your data all wrong. Please do some more research, and recalculate your findings.
H2 in ICE (ICE-HEV) is great, if you want to use renewable energy and don't wanna tote around a heavy and expensive battery pack. See this link for details on cost of H2:
Posted by: Roger Pham | 29 September 2007 at 12:14 PM
Resources link is broken...
Posted by: Michael | 29 September 2007 at 01:08 PM
Be careful quoting Popular Mechanics articles as research.
I would rename it Pipe Dreams.
Posted by: John Schreiber | 29 September 2007 at 03:29 PM
i am neither a proponent or oponetn of an H2 economy.. and I am sorry, but i never appologize....
one of the main concerns about the H2 economy is the cost of building a distributon system. pipelines, tanks, etc etc. wouldn't it be simpler and much more cost efective to simply electolize the H2 on site. i.e at each filling station? sure, each station would cost a bit more, but it would be a heck of alot cheaper than building a full distribution infrastructure i bet... and easier to maintain. and alot more secure in terms of redundancy.
Posted by: | 29 September 2007 at 07:22 PM
The data, at this point in time, is correct and conservative. Fuel cells may well come down to $35,000 each in the future with higher producton but that figure does not fill me with hope. They may well bring the quantity of platinum per unit down to 5 or 10 grams and there may well be more platinum in the earths crust than is needed for the 600 million vehicles now which could double over the next 30 yrs, but you just can't get it all out economically. And PEM's are lower in efficiency and require H2 which, as everyone else has pointed out, is a problem child which will require megabucks worth of infrastructure to handle. Ethanol is renewable, easy to handle, fun to be with and can be consumed directly and much more efficiently in a SOFC. Even the zinc-air fuel cell would require less infrastructure than the PEM.
Posted by: aussie paul | 29 September 2007 at 11:32 PM
"GM claims to have achieved the
fuel cell stacks with $ 50/kW and is working to further
reduce the cost to $ 20/kW. In a recent technical cost
analysis for PEFCs (Bar-On et al 2002), it is surmised
that this target cost can only be achieved with design
changes that would substantially reduce the quantity of
materials used. This obviously calls for more research
and development on advanced and cost-effective fuel cell
This is a direct quote from:
on page 6/8, upper right column.
This is by no means the only reference on this subject, but one that I can readily refer to you at the moment. I've seen other similar reports to the same effect. These are plausible since most auto mfg's are investing significantly on FCV technologies, and are announcing near-future release of future models. Auto mfg's are profit-driven commercial entities and won't waste their precious capital on something that has no promise of near-term commercial viability.
Earlier in GCC, we've seen report about the possiblity of reducing the platinum content of PEM FC to 1/100 the current requirement, down to the same level of the catalytic converter exhaust treatment of current cars.
Of course, not all cars should be FCV's. Many can be H2-ICE-HEV fueled on the same H2 infrastructure, while there will be a substantial number of BEV's and PHEV's, no doubt.
Posted by: Roger Pham | 30 September 2007 at 09:46 PM
If I buy green electricity (at 10% premium)and use it for a plug-in fuel cell vehicle, am I going to save $ per mile and reduce carbon footprint? I don't need to go far from home in this car.
Posted by: Tom G | 02 October 2007 at 10:46 AM
It really is a battle of technologies.
Mitsubishi (who some may argue has CEOs that are math deficient) and Nissan are throwing their hats into the BEV corner. Toyota and Ford may hedge their bets and go PHEV as well as FCEV.
In the short term PHEV is probably more affordable than FCEV and easier to fuel. In the long term??? Don't know, otherwise I'd be investing money right now.
Posted by: Patrick | 02 October 2007 at 02:25 PM