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13 Japanese automakers and energy companies join forces to support rollout of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in 2015

Japanfcv
Planned hydrogen infrastructure, with four major metro areas linked. Click to enlarge.

A coalition of 13 major Japanese automakers and energy companies—including Toyota, Honda and Nissan—are joining together to expand the introduction of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in 2015 and develop the hydrogen supply network throughout Japan. The two groups are looking to the government to join them in forming various strategies to support their joint efforts and to gain greater public acceptance of the technology.

As a specific initiative in the immediate future, the companies plan to approach local governments and other concerned parties to discuss strategies for creating initial consumer demand for FCVs and for the optimal placement of hydrogen fueling stations, targeting Japan's four major metropolitan areas (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka).

Companies in the coalition include: Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC); Nissan Motor Company, Ltd.; Honda Motor Company, Ltd.; JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation; Idemitsu Kosan Company, Ltd.; Iwatani Corporation; Osaka Gas Company, Ltd.; Cosmo Oil Company, Ltd.; Saibu Gas Company, Ltd.; Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K.; Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation; Tokyo Gas Company, Ltd.; and Toho Gas, Company, Ltd.

As development of fuel-cell systems progresses, Japanese automakers are continuing drastically to reduce the cost of manufacturing such systems and are aiming to launch FCVs in the Japanese market—mainly in the country’s four largest cities—in 2015. The automobile industry hopes to popularize the use of FCVs after their initial introduction as a way of tackling energy and environmental issues.

Hydrogen fuel suppliers are aiming to construct approximately 100 hydrogen fueling stations by 2015, based on the number of FCVs expected to initially enter the market, to ensure a smooth launch and to create initial market.

Comments

Sirkulat

Which is more important: Driving or maintaining a household electricity supply?

If an electric car can double as a portable energy supply system (plugged-in), should that energy be used for long-distance driving or for household appliances and electronic devises - phone, computer, TV/radio?

Which vehicle technology leads to maximum energy conservation? It's a particularly important question to answer in the events of energy shortage and grid failure.

clett

Davemart, are you suggesting that a fuel cell and hydrogen tank would be less complicated than an ICE range extender with gasoline tank?

At least the latter would be smaller, cheaper and backwards compatible with the existing refuelling network.

Davemart

With current technology an ICE range extender is certainly cheaper.
However, the whole point is that costs are dropping for fuel cells, and that if you are using it as a range extender you are using fundamentally compatible technologies, rather than the chalk and cheese which is bolting an ICE engine on to a battery car.
I agree that I would prefer to use something other than hydrogen as the fuel of choice, but I certainly do not see batteries as being a one size fits all solution to fuel for transport.

We also need much more energy dense alternatives, and fuel cells can do that.

JRP3

Why would you need 100 kwh to get decent range? Tesla already gets over 200 from 53 kwh, you really think EV's need 500 mile range? Too much concern over long trips that rarely happen. More efficient design will get you more range with less battery, which means faster recharge times as well.
A fuel cell vehicle is still something of a hybrid since it has a full EV system including batteries and then a hydrogen fuel cell system and tanks. People who insist on a lot of long range driving can use PHEV's.

Engineer-Poet
The advantage of using fuel cells is that you still have an all-electric car, not a complicated ICE EV hybrid
You mean the hydrogen FCEV doesn't have a fuel system, temperature and humidity control systems for the fuel cell, and management systems for whatever exhaust there might be (you've got to get rid of water even in cold weather)?

Of course it does. It also requires another TRILLION dollars in infrastructure to produce, store and deliver the brand-new fuel, and vehicles using it won't be useful anywhere that infrastructure doesn't exist. Meanwhile, PHEVs are good enough to switch 80% of driving to electric power and we can probably make enough non-fossil liquids to handle the rest with a relatively seamless changeover of our existing systems.

To me, a BEV would ideally have perhaps 100kwh to get decent range.
You can't manage with less than 400 miles? Of course, that almost always
means major highways or freeways. Slap rails in the median, supply power from a segmented and switched power rail in the middle and put rail wheels on vehicles. Voila, you have not only fixed the range problem, you have also made it feasible to run the car for long distances without human input and charge the battery en route. (Meanwhile you have also moved most freight mileage away from tire-on-pavement, which eliminates the bulk of pavement damage and saves tons of money.)

Fuel cells don't give you those multiple benefits and savings. We can't afford to solve just one problem at a time anymore.

Davemart

Hi EP,
I think you are taking the worst case for a technology you do not favour.
I would only see fuel cells working in conjunction with batteries - they are the technology which makes fuel cells possible.
Most local miles could be done on batteries, with the fuel cells as back up for long runs.
This knocks back the infrastructure needed by ~an order of magnitude, and makes the relative hypothesised inefficiencies of fuel cells in using electric vs batteries moot.
The Tesla is a two seater car - something a bit more macho would be nice, with room for the kids.
I can see no good reason why we can't have it.
To be clear, this will not happen by 2015, in which year fuel cell cars should be about in the position that battery cars were in in 2010.
I actually hope that their advent is delayed, as I would favour methanol or whatever over hydrogen, but in any case they can offer alternatives for transport that batteries can't.
Whatever might be my personal feelings about optimal transport systems ( I favour rail, with electric local delivery) a theoretical construct is not necessarily the way things work.
Although maybe people should, according to some folks opinions, be content with the range and capabilities of battery cars, I really can't see that happening.
Fuel cells will play a big part, but not soon, IMO.

JRP3

Since the only "problem" that fuel cells solve is range, and only with an expensive infrastructure that does not exist, you really need to look at how serious that problem actually is, and if there are better solutions. Charging stations are easier and cheaper to install than hydrogen infrastructure, they are also being rolled out today. More efficient vehicles that get better range from today's batteries would be easy to design and build, the work has already been done anyway. Batteries are constantly improving. Finally the perceived need for extended range is far over blown from reality.

Ben

Look the efficiency of electrolysis is at theoretical maximum at 75%, 85% for steam reforming and 75% for fuel cells (worse still is that PEM fuel cells will never do better then 60%), Many lithium chemistry batteries are already doing 95% efficiency charge/discharge cycles. Add in the needed inefficiencies of compressing hydrogen, and piping hydrogen, and its physically impossible for hydrogen economy to ever as efficient as a battery economy.

Next there the already existing electric grid verse non-existent hydrogen piping and production capability. With the minor modifications to the existing grid and utilization of off peak power we could power 70-80% of cars electrically without a single new power plant, with hydrogen we would have to make all these steam reformers, electrolysis plants and pipelines.

Hydrogen is a pain to store, it present safety problems equal to or worse then gasoline. We could make metal-air flow cell batteries with rapid fueling abilities and great range, with a paste fuel that is incombustible, safe and energy dense and uses relatively cheap materials like zinc or aluminum.

wintermane2000

Its still comming and it still will be a very big deal. I for one am gona enjoy watching all the amazing things that pop up between now and 2040. Gona be fun.. or deadly.. or both.

Engineer-Poet

The hydrogen hype comes up against reality, like the closure of the much-touted "hydrogen highway" fuel stations in California. Hydrogen has FAIL written all over it.

Fred H

Just remember that the bottom line is not in units of kilowatt hours, kilograms, liters, or percent efficiency, but in units of dollars and euros.

You can make a car that is 95% efficient, but it will be worthless, if on the bottom line it is too expensive.
You can make a car that is 5% efficient, but it will be a success, if on the bottom line it is cost effective.

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