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Transportation Power Technology

Toyota Unveils Plan For Hydrogen Powered Semi Truck (rdmag.com) 152

New submitter omaha393 quotes a report from R&D Magazine: Toyota announced a new initiative on Wednesday aimed at advancing its work in vehicles powered by alternative energy sources. The automaker unveiled Project Portal, which is a novel hydrogen fuel cell system designed for heavy duty truck use at the Port of Los Angeles. A proof-of-concept truck powered by this fuel cell will be part of a feasibility study held at the Port this summer, with the goal of examining the potential of this technology in heavy-duty applications. The test vehicle will produce more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound feet of torque from two of these novel fuel cell stacks along with a 12kWh battery. Overall, the combined weight capacity is 80,000 pounds that will be carried over 200 miles.

omaha393 adds: "While hydrogen fuel has been criticized due to high cost of production and safety concerns, recent advances in catalysis and solid storage systems have made the prospect of hydrogen fuel an attractive commercial prospect for the future."

Toyota Unveils Plan For Hydrogen Powered Semi Truck

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  • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @06:35PM (#54266449)
    Please Mr. Summary writer. You are not getting torque from a fuel cell stack. That's the job of the motor.
    • Re: Torque (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That, and who wants a semi truck? I'll wait for a full truck.

    • by Motard ( 1553251 )

      He said 'the vehicle' will produce the HP and torque.

    • Please Mr D form 63 learn to read.

      The test vehicle will produce more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound feet of torque from two of these novel fuel cell stacks along with a 12kWh battery.

      The vehicle produces horsepower and toque. It does so using a form of energy storage. What is in between is irrelevant to the sentence.
      Sometimes pedantic can be so pedantic that they forget how to actually communicate properly.

      • The test vehicle will produce more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound feet of torque from two of these novel fuel cell stacks...

        And... no, it won't.

    • Hydrogen as an energy storage method is extremely inefficient [phys.org]. It is a distraction. Battery power with grid recharging is far more efficient and convenient.

  • Toyota Shows Off It's Semi for Hydrogen

    They are certainly showwers. ;)

  • Scam (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by segedunum ( 883035 )
    Hydrogen powered vehicles are a scam. From the hydrogen production to the non-existent storage and transportation network, they just aren't going to happen.
    • by scatbomb ( 1099255 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @07:14PM (#54266605)

      A couple years ago I'd have agreed with you, but a lot has changed.

      Toyota unveiled a (admittedly very expensive) hydrogen-powered car that goes >300 miles on a charge and takes 5 min to refuel. Toyota, the largest auto manufacturer in the world, is probably not doing this as an empty gesture. They've announced they'll almost eliminate ICE cars from their lineup by 2050 and have yet to release an all-electric car (just plugin hybrids). They're working with Shell to provide fueling stations, of which there are >80 in Japan and 25 in CA right now, promising 160 in Japan within a couple years.

      source: https://ssl.toyota.com/mirai/f... [toyota.com]

      source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news... [bloomberg.com]

      Hydrogen can be produced via electrolysis of water or salt water from any source of electricity, including intermittent sources like renewables. The efficiency of electrolysis is very high today, approaching 90%.

      source: http://www.h2fc-fair.com/hm14/... [h2fc-fair.com]

      It's not a perfect answer, but it's looking a lot less ridiculous than it did a few years ago.

      • Worth pointing out that solar produced hydrogen efficiency is also improving, world record efficiency published last week. (Unfortunately nature energy pay walls all their articles, RDM did a report on it though) http://www.rdmag.com/news/2017... [rdmag.com]
      • I hope that Hydrogen doesn't happen. Firstly, hydrogen is just a battery. The only advantage is that you can recharge your vehicle quickly. But with that convenience you lose a lot of efficiency compared to leaving everything as electricity. Converting electricity to hydrogen, keeping it cold in order to store and ship it, and then convert it back to electricity in a fuel cell is much less efficient than just transmitting electricity and storing it in a battery.

        Secondly, for the near future most of our

        • Well, we have to solve the storage issue before renewables can take over anyway. Batteries are still a long way from being viable for grid-scale storage. One day's worth of energy in the US (which we would want to store due to the intermittent nature of renewable sources) is around 11TWh. Take for example Tesla's GW battery plant that will make something approaching ~35GWh/year worth of battery storage. At that rate it would take 11TWh/(0.035TWh/year) = 314 years to produce a day's worth of grid storage in
          • So, when will there EVER be the requirement to store the entire days worth of electricity demand for the entire continental United States of America?

            What are you hoping to achieve by using such an utterly ridiculous example?
            I really hate it when people decide that their politics demands that they try to trick people.


            Why can't we talk about the shiny space age technology instead of deciding to attack it because it could be used for something "green". The attack is not being "conservative" kids - it's bei
            • Wow there, take it easy. This wasn't a political post, I'm simply discussing energy storage in the context of generating 100% of electricity from renewable sources and using algebra with order-of-magnitude thinking to show the magnitude of the solution needed. In any case, I'd like to know exactly why you believe my example is "utterly ridiculous."

              It's not exactly clear how much storage would be needed to achieve 100% renewable energy. The more storage we have, the less generation capacity we need for cloud

              • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                In any case, I'd like to know exactly why you believe my example is "utterly ridiculous."

                A suggestion that batteries (or insert any other "green" technology you with to attack instead) are useless because they cannot single-handedly supply a days worth of electricity for a nation the size of the USA is not ridiculous and not a politically motivated move?
                So you are calling me stupid or gullible as well?

                WTF is it with this political luddite shit. Something doesn't have to be the "one true energy" that can d

                • A suggestion that batteries (or insert any other "green" technology you with to attack instead) are useless because they cannot single-handedly supply a days worth of electricity for a nation the size of the USA is not ridiculous and not a politically motivated move? So you are calling me stupid or gullible as well? WTF is it with this political luddite shit. Something doesn't have to be the "one true energy" that can do everything for it to be useful.

                  Relax for a minute, I'm afraid you're going to pop a vein. If you'll read my other posts in this topic, I think you'll find that I'm pretty positive with regard to "green" technology. I simply pointed out a potential advantage of hydrogen compared to batteries. I think you're getting offended over nothing.

                  Also ask a high schooler to tell you about electricity grids and time zones. Distributed generation capacity that can be turned on and off as required are vastly less lossy than any sort of storage, and since you have a grid the size of a continent that peaks are spread so storage isn't so necessary anyway. When New York needs power for an evening peak Texas isn't using a lot.

                  Instead of pretending you know everything, I suggest you read up on energy storage with regard to attaining high penetration of renewables. In every study I've read, the authors assert that we need much mu

                  • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                    If you'll read my other posts in this topic

                    Yes you repeated the exact same FUD tactics where the item you despise is required to do something utterly beyond the realms of reason before it can be considered adequate.
                    It's kind of obvious what you are doing.

                    Instead of pretending you know everything

                    I suggested consulting with a high schooler. This is not a difficult topic at all and you don't need to have worked in the electricity industry like I did to understand it. You are either woefully ignorant or being

                    • At this point I'm suspicious that you're pulling my leg, I'm not sure how anyone could get so worked up over a post regarding battery vs hydrogen storage. However, if what I said was factually wrong and you are an expert, go ahead, convince me. Use facts. Use numbers. Put links, I'll read them. I'm not some partisan idiot like you apparently believe I am. So go for it, give me the benefit of your expert knowledge and experience.
                    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
                      Still trying anything for ideology boy?
                      Tell me then - when is there ever going to be a time when the entire USA needs to run off batteries?

                      I'm not some partisan idiot

                      Did I call you an idiot? Underhanded and maybe I should call you amoral, but idiot, no.

                    • Completely on batteries? I don't think it'll happen for reasons stated above. Still waiting for that expert analysis of yours.
                    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
                      So you concede that your example is utterly ridiculous?
                      Then stop fucking using it to pretend that something is useless unless it meets that unrealistic benchmark or you will be taken to task for the doubt you are spreading by cranky old bastards like me.
                      If you can't push an agenda without deception then perhaps you should only push it on political sites where that sort of underhanded shit is expected.
        • But with that convenience you lose a lot of efficiency compared to leaving everything as electricity.

          How do you carry a tank of electricity around in your vehicle without converting it to some other form? Did you invent cheap room-temperature superconductors and forget to tell anyone?

        • by G00F ( 241765 )

          The reason for hydrogen is because it keeps the infrastructure in place. A big part of the auto industry is the oil industry. Did you really think the auto industry would alienate them?

          Nothing really changes, still need gas stations and big companies rather than making oil make hydrogen. And guess what the best* way to make hydrogen is? Not from water but fossil fuels like NG.

          Not to mention, a giant portion of the EV cost is battery which the auto industry lacks. Battery tech got better despite them not i

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Hydrogen vehicles have too many of the same problems as petrol/diesel. The fuel has to be transported by another vehicle, for example. They also need complex systems, which means more maintenance and up front cost.

        The major benefit is fast refueling, but that will be irrelevant in a few years. A self driving truck that stops for 30 minutes every 3 hours is no big deal. Better batteries will mean more range, but I bet that most trucks won't bother initially because within reason delivery time is not a big fa

        • They also need complex systems, which means more maintenance and up front cost.

          I don't think you realise just how simple a hydrogen fuel cell drivetrain is compared to a traditional engine. Effectively there are only two parts in addition to a traditional electric car and those parts have very few moving parts.

        • A self driving truck that stops for 30 minutes every 3 hours is no big deal.

          No, that is a huge deal. The vehicles are already running over the legal speed (I literally never see a tractor-trailer in California going less than 55, the legal speed limit for all vehicles while towing in this state) and drivers are already running at the absolute limits of the maximum hours they can legally drive per day in order to get cargoes where they are going in the same day. If you can't fill up in fifteen minutes, then you're costing them time they can't afford. You're also doubling to quadrupl

          • by G00F ( 241765 )

            Auto driving trucks stopping ever 300 miles for 30 min is not that bad.

            1. Auto driving trucks don't need to sleep, and laws will most likely change to reflect that.
            2. Current trucks take longer to fill their twin 70-150 gallon tanks.
            3. Less parts to fail in electric autos, not just for a more reliable standpoint but there are laws for down time per truck regardless of driver.

            On the flip side with their large tanks they could fill up once per day but the real limit is laws around drive and truck fatigue. Thi

            • I agree that the fueling stop duration becomes less of an issue if you use automated trucks, but consider that those automated trucks are going to have to be programmed to actually follow the law and go 55 in California, unlike human drivers. You know California, where the food comes from?

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        Hydrogen can be produced via electrolysis of water

        Yeah. For ENORMOUS energy input. As a laboratory curiosity. Nobody produces significant amounts this way. They use mostly reformation of natural gas and coal.

        • Nobody produces significant amounts this way

          Close to 5% of the world's production is currently done this way.

          One of the main reasons for steam methane reforming or partial oxidation being the primary production method is that the primary consumer is an oil refinery which has the raw ingredients for both processes in spades.

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        Pledging to eliminate all ICE cars by 2050 is such a far off claim as to be meaningless. And if they're replacing them with vehicles which derive their fuel from the same fossil fuels then its doubly so.

        Hydrogen is just a dumb means to power vehicles. It's very hard to transport, very hard to contain, incredibly flammable, very hard to produce and all round just a terrible idea. Personally I think fuel cells have potential but only when they use ethanol as their input. Ethanol fuel cells still use hydroge

      • Where are you getting 90% efficient electrolysis from? In the PDF article you linked, it says cell voltage efficiency is up to 90%, but that's not for the entire process. PEM electrolysis has a theoretical efficiency of 94%, but even the best projections are 74% in a decade or more. So again, where did you get "The efficiency of electrolysis is very high today, approaching 90%."?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] for PEM electrolyzers, "Ranges in 2014 were 43–67% for the alkaline and 40–67% fo

    • Nevermind that it's also (effectively) a fossil fuel since cracking water is prohibitive from an energy standpoint so they steam crack natural gas instead...

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hydrogen powered vehicles are a scam. From the hydrogen production to the non-existent storage and transportation network, they just aren't going to happen.

      “Which came first, the car or the gasoline station?”

      Without hesitation my father-in-law said, “the car.”

      https://driveelectricvt.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/which-came-first-the-car-or-the-gasoline-station/

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      It's a local pollution reduction thing. That's why it sometimes makes sense despite the difficulties.
      I can see California and China going for it for vehicles based entirely in cities.
      Not every truck is on long routes.

      I'd say every city that has some sort of industrial chemical production is very close to being able to supply it already. Hydrogen gas is produced as a precursor for a lot of things.
      • It's a local pollution reduction thing ... Not every truck is on long routes.

        True, but many warehouses and distribution centers are within populated areas. There are a huge number of distribution centers east of L.A., and they are a significant contributor to particulate pollution in the area. It is bad enough that it is causing an asthma cluster in the area.

        While hydrogen-hybrids may not be suitable for long-haul trucking, there are other options using current-gen tech. One proposal is to switch to LNG, which contributes significantly less pollution per mile driven. A number of

        • That'd make a hell of a lot more sense than hydrogen too. LNG and CNG have both been used successfully in vehicles as an alternative fuel for a long time (I remember a big push to retrofit vehicles in Arizona with them back in ~2000, with hefty tax breaks). The main problem is the range isn't as good as gas/diesel, but it's still going to be better than stupid hydrogen, plus you can run it in existing engines with minimal modifications, and the storage tanks are a lot easier to construct and are safer.

          Hyd

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            Perhaps they are hedging their bets for situations such as where a heavily polluted city makes a knee-jerk political decision and also bans LNG and similar? While pollution levels with hydrogen are not much lower (there is still NOx) there is no CO and CO2 (which may end up as a bit more of a political poison than it is currently).
            As you wrote, hydrogen is very difficult to deal with currently and is likely to always be a bit more difficult than other choices, but it does still work at short ranges and it
    • I'm hoping you're being ironic? Gas stations didn't spring up over night, one went to a Dry Cleaners for fuel, and before cars, there was an industry of people that handled horses, and their, um by-products. As for transporting energy without glowing afterwards, Hydrogen is better. Consider piping hydrogen to a dry stream bed, add a fuel cell and one has electricity and water. Try that with gasoline.
      I'll go one better, if China got its head out of their 'collective' ass and went Automotive Fuel Cell, quick
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @07:36PM (#54266721)

    oh the humanity!

  • Electric cars are become more common. Not just Tesla, but most car manufacturers are jumping in. Electricity is relatively cheap, ubiquitous and easy to make.

    Why Hydrogen?

    And why is nobody else but the Japanese car manufacturers even slightly interested in it?

    • by Motard ( 1553251 )

      Because the Japanese think longer term than us.

      Weigh your Tesla. It's 1000 pounds heavier than a Honda FCV. The hydrogen does cost more to make from electricity as opposed to putting it into your 1000 lb battery pack, but think about the long term.

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @08:07PM (#54266859) Homepage

      Why Hydrogen?

      Hydrogen is a way of storing power that doesn't require a heavy, expensive, short-lived battery pack.

      Of course, this was a much better argument back in the bad old days when batteries had horrible energy density, were insanely expensive, and didn't last very long.

      Now that battery technology has improved quite a bit, batteries only somewhat suck and are only expensive instead of insanely expensive -- so the advantages of hydrogen over battery storage are smaller.

      I expect that in the future batteries will continue to get better, and people will stop talking about hydrogen because there won't be any advantage anymore.

      • by linuxguy ( 98493 )

        > I expect that in the future batteries will continue to get better, and people will stop talking about hydrogen because there won't be any advantage anymore.

        I am in agreement. The Japanese bet on the wrong horse and did not anticipate progress the battery industry has made and is making. Now they are just trying to beat that dead horse some more to see if they can get anything out of it at all.

        Toyota has been going at this for quite some time. They still haven't produce a single hydrogen car for the

        • by Motard ( 1553251 )

          Now they are just trying to beat that dead horse some more to see if they can get anything out of it at all.

          Yes, that's exactly how a multinational conglomerate works.

        • Actually they do have a hydrogen car for consumers; see https://arstechnica.com/cars/2... [arstechnica.com]. Not exactly for the mass market yet though.

          Just a nitpick though; I agree with your point.

        • Toyota has been going at this for quite some time. They still haven't produce a single hydrogen car for the consumers.

          No, they have. Their new vehicle comes as EV, PHEV, or as a Hydrogen vehicle. Of course, you can only buy it in California, but nobody outside of California is dumb enough to buy one anyway. And actually, you can only lease it. On the other hand, the lease deals are so good because they are so desperate to put asses in [driver] seats that if you actually use it as much as the lease will allow, you will wind up paying about $100/mo for the vehicle. That's because fuel is free. That's right, they're giving aw

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@Nospam.world3.net> on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @10:43PM (#54267359) Homepage Journal

        Can we please kill this myth about batteries being short lived?

        Tesla tested their old packs to 750k miles with 86% remaining capacity. Panasonic says they should do 900k to 80%, and with careful driving a million miles doesn't look unreasonable.

        Taxi companies running Nissan Leafs with 200k miles report over 85% capacity remaining too. Considering the pack is zero maintenance that compares well with a petrol engine.

        80% capacity is considered end of life, by the way, but in practical terms you could re use that battery in another vehicle or as a UPS for many more years.

        That's with today's batteries. Future ones will be even better. Current warranties are usually around 8 years or 100k miles. Replacement Leaf batteries are around $4k but as far as I am aware no one has ever bought one. Even in the worst possible case, would you spend less than $4k maintaing a petrol engine over 8 years?

        • by fnj ( 64210 )

          80% capacity is considered end of life, by the way, but in practical terms you could re use that battery in another vehicle or as a UPS for many more years.

          Re-use? Why? Just continue using it normally. 80% capacity isn't EOL in the original application. Not even close. So your car takes 5 seconds instead of 4 to reach 100 km/h. So it only travels 240 km instead of 300 km. So what. That isn't anywhere near useless.

          • It's "end of life" according to the manufacturer. You know, the company that really wants you to buy a new car from them after 3-5 years. So those "EOL" terms are always on the short side.

      • Batteries are still horribly expensive, and whilst in use they are environmentally 'clean', but disposing of them after they have reached their end of life is a BIG environmental problem. Add to that they have an average life of 2~5 years IF treated well.

        I see Hydrogen as a perfect fit for home energy needs when / where renewable energy is not always available, and space is not as much of an issue.
        • Add to that they have an average life of 2~5 years IF treated well.

          Total fucking horseshit.
          EV batteries last 10 years or more.

    • And why is nobody else but the Japanese car manufacturers even slightly interested in it?

      Because of observer bias. Here's is some interest from others:

      BMW Hydrogen 7
      BMW i8
      Mercedes F-Cell
      Audi A7 H-Tron
      VW Golf Hymotion
      Hyundai Intrado
      Nissan TeRRA
      Honda FCX

      The Americans have been a bit quiet recently but that didn't stop them playing with:
      Ford Focus FCV
      GM Hydrogen4

      The AFCC is a joint venture between Dailmer and Ford to develop H2 fuel cells for cars. They were targeting 2017 for a release of a H2 car, but that's dropped off the way side a bit.

    • - Charging will take only five minutes or so
      - Hydrogen can be stored in huge containers, which scales better than batteries
      - Hydrogen can relatively easily be transported
      - Production and/or disposal of the storage device may be more ecologically friendly (not sure about this)

      Toyota is the technology leader in hybrid engines so they know a lot about electric cars. They may have their reasons why they think hydrogen is the future.
  • And this'll hit the trucking industry like a bomb!

  • A friend of mine is driving a concept fuel cell tractor trailer for his company. They had to add a digitized noisemaker to sound like a diesel engine because the truck is so quiet. Since the truck is so quiet, it's almost a safety hazard because it kind of creeps up quietly. He loves the fuel cell truck as it outperforms the diesel, it's quiet, and the range he gets is equivalent to 14mpg. My buddy said that they'll have to pry this truck out of his cold dead hands.
  • I need a monster truck that runs on crushed up Priuses.

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