NETL researchers create MOF-based luminescent sensor to detect aluminum impurities in rare earth element sources
Canada awarding more than $344M for critical minerals development

Toyota develops electrolyzer using Mirai technology; deploying at DENSO plant

Toyota has developed new electrolysis equipment to produce hydrogen from electrolyzing water using the fuel cell (FC) stack and other technology from the Mirai. The equipment will be put into operation this March at a DENSO Fukushima Corporation plant, which will serve as a technology implementation venue to promote its widespread use going forward.


As installed at DENSO Fukushima

Toyota will accelerate its efforts to build a model for the local consumption of locally produced hydrogen, using electrolysis equipment to produce clean hydrogen and combust it in one of the plant's gas furnaces.

The hydrogen utilization at DENSO Fukushima will be implemented as a project subsidized by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

Toyota has positioned hydrogen as a critical fuel for promoting initiatives aimed at reducing CO2 emissions to contribute to achieving carbon neutrality. In doing so, it aims to promote the use of hydrogen not only through fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) including passenger cars, commercial trucks, and buses, but also through the widespread use of fuel cell (FC) products, such as the development and test operation of FC stationary generators. To this end, Toyota is working with various industry partners in the areas of producing, transporting, storing, and using hydrogen.

Toyota has been using hydrogen for FCEVs, FC stationary generators, production at plants, etc. to date. It has also promoted transporting activities, such as the development and manufacturing of FC trucks for hydrogen transportation. In the future, Toyota hopes to contribute to expanding options for producing hydrogen using biogas generated from livestock manure in Thailand in addition to developing electrolysis equipment.

The electrolysis equipment, which utilizes the FC stack from the Mirai and Sora FC bus, is newly developed equipment that takes advantage of both the technology Toyota has cultivated over many years of FCEV development and the knowledge and expertise it has accumulated from a variety of usage environments around the world. The unit installed at DENSO Fukushima can produce approximately 8 kg hydrogen per hour, with 53 kWh/1 kg hydrogen energy required.


The cells used in the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolysis stack are highly reliable, backed by the mass production and usage results of more than seven million cells (enough for approximately 20,000 FCEVs) since the first-generation Mirai was launched in December 2014.


Toyota has used titanium for the stack separator, which was developed for FCEVs and has been used since the first-generation Mirai. It was developed to improve the durability that is required of electrolysis equipment using titanium's high corrosion resistance maintaining almost the same level of performance even after 80,000 hours of operation so that it can be used safely over a long period of time.


Electrolysis equipment configuration

More than 90% of FC stack components for FCEVs and FC stack production facilities can be used/shared in the PEM electrolysis stack production process. This will allow for mass production to achieve a cost level that enables its widespread use. Furthermore, it significantly shortens the development period by using the technology, knowledge, and experience accumulated over many years of FCEV development.



' with 53 kWh/1 kg hydrogen energy required. '

That is not great, other technologies can do way better, but:

' More than 90% of FC stack components for FCEVs and FC stack production facilities can be used/shared in the PEM electrolysis stack production process. This will allow for mass production to achieve a cost level that enables its widespread use. Furthermore, it significantly shortens the development period by using the technology, knowledge, and experience accumulated over many years of FCEV development. '

Just as in trucking, where Toyota is using hydrogen gas rather than liquid, in contrast to most everyone else, their idea is to attain volume and low cost through using one basic technology.

We will just have to wait to see how that pans out.


In other hydrogen news:

' Natural hydrogen | HyTerra will reveal next month if it has world’s first commercially exploitable H2 field

Australian company is currently pumping water out of well in Nebraska, ahead of flow rate and gas composition testing

Australian company HyTerra will find out in the coming weeks if there are commercially exploitable quantities of naturally occurring hydrogen underground at a site in Nebraska, central US.'

Clearly if this test pans out, then they whole energy market is likely to be transformed, as well perhaps as the balance between battery and fuel cell vehicles.

OTOH, if the quantities are not commercial, that is a downer, but is not conclusive evidence that there would be an equally null result elsewhere.

If it works though in commercial quantities then it is deeply unreasonable to imagine that this is probably not also the case in other places.

It is not often that we have a time line of a month or so to see if something deeply transformative works out.

Commercial natural hydrogen would certainly be that.


In opposition to using H2 FCs for ground transportation, 500-1,000 Wh/kg battery cells have already been developed in U.S. laboratories; and, it's only a matter of time before they meet the requirements for mass production.
Here again Toyota's insistence on using H2 for ground transportation is mysterious; but, I'm sure they have good reasons not apparent to the casual observer.



It is a long trip from the laboratory to the road!

Just to be clear, I have absolutely nothing against batteries, just batteries which are 'coming real soon' used as a justification to heavily subsidise in all sorts of ways cars for the better off, at the expense of everybody else.

To me, it is equally mysterious why folk should attempt to rule out hydrogen, which can currently provide far more energy than batteries, with a 5 minute refuel without needing huge loads from the local grid.

If you fancy running around on batteries most of the time, and have somewhere convenient to plug in, then instead of a thumping great battery a plug in FCEV will do the job fine.

And it is tough in some areas to provide electriclty when it is ideally needed to charge cars.

If batteries can be improved economically to do what enthusiasts assume, that is just fine with me.

But a good alternative would be hydrogen , with whatever degree of battery assistance works best, so why a far better alternative than present practise should be discarded by so many is strange.

If renewables to hydrogen from places where that is far cheaper than renewaable electricity/natural hydrogen are to be the source, for many regions then why bother going through the extra step of producing electricity, when you can just pump hydrogen into your car?

That bypasses the fact that the vast majority of the world's motorists and especially would be motorists in the third world have and can have nowhere at all to plug in their car.

And they currently pay less for their whole car than than the price of the battery pack alone in the subsidised, mandated electric luxmobiles.



You give Toyota more credit than I would. I think that they just screwed up. Yes, if hydrogen was next to free and did not require more than twice the energy as batteries, it might make some sense but you would still have the other problems with hydrogen. About 30 or 40 years ago, both GM and Ford were looking at hydrogen but now they will be completely battery electric by 2035. Meanwhile, Toyota was planning on building IC engines until 2050 and lobbied the US congress to prevent California and about a dozen other states from requiring all new light duty vehicles to be zero emissions by 2035. Anyway, we should be using all of the green hydrogen that is possible to make ammonia for fertilizer to replace the natural gas that is now being used.


@sd said:

' Yes, if hydrogen was next to free and did not require more than twice the energy as batteries, '

As I have noted elsewhere, if you are intending to use renewable energy, you have to take local resources into account.

Since a solar panel in the Gulf or North Africa will get twice the energy over a year compared to the same panel in Germany, then your calculations given the high efficiencies now possible in converting solar to ammonia, transporting it and reconverting it to pump hydrogen into a car, and the fact that in places where it gets cold fuel cells provide heat for the occupants and to keep the batteries etc in good condition it is difficult to see how your calculations are wholly accurate.

That is aside from the fact that we are constantly told that most daily journeys are under 30 miles, so what perhaps should be compared is a car with a thumping great battery pack to cover the long runs and one where a modest pack covers day to day running around whilst a fuel cell conveniently covers long runs.

That alone drives a horse and cart through the efficiency claims you have presented.

And as I note above, if commercial natural hydrogen does pan out, why go through the extra trouble and expense of burning it in relatively inefficient cental generators, and producing electricity to be inefficiently transmitted to power expensive batteries when you can simply pump in hydrogen, and not have range etc limitations?

What is most effective, economic and efficient depends on where, using what technology etc., and is not the absolute slam dunk winner everywhere claimed for batteries, and most certainly not for anything like current batteries.

Perhaps Toyota have been somewhat influenced as like northern Europe and perhaps northern China Japan unless it goes heavily nuclear is not going to be able to power its transport etc from locally produced renewables, but will need hydrogen imports one way or another, perhaps as ammonia or LOHC

I like batteries a lot, but they are very far from the absolute, universal winner everywhere and in all situations and climates so often claimed.

Juan Carlos Zuleta

Davemart said:
"Natural hydrogen | HyTerra will reveal next month if it has world’s first commercially exploitable H2 field."

That is correct. But H2 will not become the energy technology of choice for everyone right after we know that natural H2 can be commercially exploitable. There are still many pending issues with H2 in relation to its transportation that could still limit its massive adoption in most countries due to its low energy per unit volume, therefore requiring the development of advanced storage methods that have the potential for higher energy density.


Juan Carlos Zuleta

Hi Juan, it is good to see you here!

Just to clarify, I am very keen on the electrification of transport, and have been at least since the days that introducing the Nissan Leaf was mooted, and it started to enter the realms of practicality.

My objection is exactly the same as Toyota's, that for starters less well off motorists should not be left out in the cold, as in reality all electric BEVs remain an expensive solution.

When and as better batteries become available, well and good, but simply heavily penalising poorer motorists to help pay for luxury cars for the better off right now gets my dander up.

The other main objection is that if you are intending to use renewables, without importing energy as ammonia etc, the sums just do not add up in some places like Germany and Japan.

And no doubt issues will arise on the use of hydrogen, but simply assuming that they will be overcome in the case of batteries, and magically, renewable power will be available in Hamburg in December to power BEVs without importing ammonia or whatever is just shutting the eyes and fantacising.

I like batteries.

I like fuel cells.

Both work together superbly well, and enhance each other in the things that are more difficult for each.

Why folk seek to dismiss whole vast areas of technology, whilst also assuming that batteries can do what they plainly can't baffles me.

If Germany were going nuclear and all battery for most transport, that makes some sense.

What does not even begin to add up is trying to run Germany on renewables without massive imports of hydrogen in one form or another.

The same applies to Japan.


Another indication of the lack of an even handed assessment of hydrogen by many who for some reason feel that it has to be denigrated to support batteries, instead of being allowed to complement it in a powerful synergy of technologies, is that for many years after it was abundantly clear that, whether or not the trials at the Bakken fields pan out commercially, natural hydrogen is a reality.

For ten years or so the stuff has been exploited in Mali, but still so called 'authorities' on energy were prating on that hydrogen is an energy carrier, not a source.

Less than a year ago I had to write in to correct the BBC, which entirely falsely claimed that natural hydrogen does not exist!

They altered that, grudgingly, to simply downplaying it as absolutely minor, with no hint of the possibility that it is far from minor.

To my mind, it is folk getting a bee in their bonnets and losing all objectivity.

And it is not just natural hydrogen, there are a whole host of other technologies such as pyrolysis which may, and note I say may, not will, produce green or carbon captured hydrogen at very low cost.

I have no idea if they will pan out or not, but neither have the detractors, who simply seek to dismiss out of hand technologies they don't happen to fancy, in favour of assuming massive, or in some cases impossible, improvements in their hobby horse favoured techs to cover everything, everywhere.


I am hoping although not expecting that should either natural hydrogen or other production methods further improve the economics then there will be a genuine reassessment of the role of hydrogen and its derivatives in decarbonisation.

What I expect is ' and another thing' argumentation evading any real re-evaluation when the conditions on which the judgement were purportedly made are comprehensive shown to be false.

Conclusions in search of a rationale, anything to hand will do.

It was entirely illogical anyway to imagine that renewables produced on the spot in Germany in winter or in Japan could manage to cover everything, including transport, without imports, so the position was in any case a fantasy.

I do not of course seek to ignore the substantial issues, such as transport and leakage, but there is a difference between constructive assessment and re-hashing wilfull dismissal, on any grounds that can be found.

For instance, it is repeatedly currently stated that hydrogen is no good for heating.

This simply ignores the inconvenient fact that home fuel cells are installed right now in hundreds of thousands of Japanese homes, which provide heat at well as power at stonking efficiencies of over 90%, instead of inefficiently burning natural gas now or hydrogen in some future centrally, chucking a lot of the heat out through a chimney, and with substantial losses sending electriticity to homes.

To dismiss hydrogen for heating, the trick is to simply assume the most inefficient method possible, burning it in a gas boiler, and talk about that as though it were the only option.

Hydrogen works very nicely in a fuel cell, including to power heat pumps if more heat is required.

That does not fit the pre-packaged conclusion required though, so it is simply ignored.


Here, just in, is what I would regard as a genuine difficulty for greatly increased hydrogen production and use:

' The problem boils down to one small, difficult-to-measure molecule known as the hydroxyl radical (OH). Often dubbed "the detergent of the troposphere," OH plays a critical role in eliminating greenhouse gases such as methane and ozone from the atmosphere.

The hydroxyl radical also reacts with hydrogen gas in the atmosphere. And since a limited amount of OH is generated each day, any spike in hydrogen emissions means that more OH would be used to break down hydrogen, leaving less OH available to break down methane. As a consequence, methane would stay longer in the atmosphere, extending its warming impacts. '


' "Managing leakage rates of hydrogen and methane will be critical," Bertagni said. "If you have just a small amount of methane leakage and a bit of hydrogen leakage, then the blue hydrogen that you produce really might not be much better than using fossil fuels, at least for the next 20 to 30 years."

The researchers emphasized the importance of the time scale over which the effect of hydrogen on atmospheric methane is considered. Bertagni said that in the long-term (over the course of a century, for instance), the switch to a hydrogen economy would still likely deliver net benefits to the climate, even if methane and hydrogen leakage levels are high enough to cause near-term warming. Eventually, he said, atmospheric gas concentrations would reach a new equilibrium, and the switch to a hydrogen economy would demonstrate its climate benefits. But before that happens, the potential near-term consequences of hydrogen emissions might lead to irreparable environmental and socioeconomic damage. '

Juan Carlos Zuleta

Davemart, you are right. Hydrogen emissions could pose one of the most challenging problems yet to be solved to avoid "irreparable environmental and socioeconomic damage."



I am hoping, although not expecting, that instead of any issues which arise, and there are bound to be some for any technology, that instead of being used to further fortify pre-existing positions we can get something like clean slate, open minded review.

Sure, lots of things 'could' be the case.

But this is one assessment, and we need at minimum to have further analysis, as it would not be the first time a study has come up with tosh.

And then mitigation strategies need to be studied, before sweeping conclusions are drawn.

The first thought which springs to mind, is to wonder how difficult it might be to generate additional hydroxyl radicals?

But there is no doubt that this, just as the environmental impact of producing and installing across massive areas solar and wind, is something to which further attention is needed.

Producing whatever on very large scales has big impacts, which need study and mitigation.


The issue of hydroxyl radicals certainly throws a spotlight on the notion of controlling the temperature of liquid hydrogen by boil-off.

The comments to this entry are closed.