Japanese carmakers in push for hydrogen vehicles

Jan 14, 2011
Nissan Motors' X-Trail Fuel Cell Vehicle, seen here in 2006. Toyota, Honda and Nissan, along with 10 Japanese energy groups including natural gas refiners and distributors, want to build 100 hydrogen filling stations by 2015 in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka.

Japan's top three automakers Toyota, Honda and Nissan have united with Japanese energy firms in a push to commercialise greener hydrogen fuel cell cars and build a network of fuelling stations.

Along with 10 Japanese energy groups including natural gas refiners and distributors, the companies are aiming to build 100 filling stations by 2015 in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka, the companies said in a statement Thursday.

The are making a renewed push behind Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs), which covert hydrogen into electricity and emit nothing more harmful than water vapour.

The companies say that the creation of a hydrogen supply is crucial as manufacturers work to reduce the production cost of hydrogen-powered vehicles in order to make them commercially viable.

"Japanese automakers are continuing to drastically reduce the cost of manufacturing such systems and are aiming to launch FCVs in the Japanese market -- mainly in the country's four major metropolitan areas -- in 2015," they said.

"With an aim to significantly reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by the transportation sector, automakers and hydrogen fuel suppliers will work together to expand the introduction of FCVs and develop the hydrogen supply network throughout Japan."

Wwater drains from the tailpipe of an hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle. Toyota, Honda and Nissan have united with Japanese energy firms in a push to commercialise greener hydrogen fuel cell cars and build a network of fuelling stations.

The companies did not say how much they planned to invest in the project.

While all-electric vehicles such as Nissan's Leaf or hybrids like Toyota's Prius have hogged the limelight recently, fuel cells are seen as a more powerful alternative, but expensive production and a lack of a comprehensive fuelling network has been seen as prohibitive.

Toyota, pioneer of hybrids powered by a and an electric motor, has said it plans to launch a fuel-cell car by 2015. It is applying its to the vehicles, swapping the petrol engine for a stack.

Honda in 2008 began delivering about 200 FCX Clarity hydrogen-powered cars on lease to customers in the United States, Japan and later in Europe.

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User comments : 9

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Shakescene21
not rated yet Jan 14, 2011
It seems that Japanese manufacturers have decided to use hydrogen in fuel cells to power electric motors. At one time it was thought that hydrogen would be combined with oxygen in an internal combustion engine, as a direct replacement for gasoline. I believe that GM's hydrogen program is also going with fuel cells rather than internal combustion engines.
CORD
4 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2011
If all that these cars produce for emissions, if everyone drove one eventually wouldn't the world have excess water? Just curious I don't know much about how hydrogen fuel cells work but if anyone can enlighten me it would be much appreciated.
TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2011
I love these articles, but we have to start somewhere. I wonder how much those hydrogen cars will cost? $200,000.00 each? Plus they will use petrol as the carrier of hydrogen or a synthetic fuel that yes does help the environment somewhat.
Being able to split the water molecule efficiently will save everyone a whole lot of money and effort. The first authentic wheel was invented c 3500 BCE. Maybe soon all of the innovation from the past will lead to a clean air H2O vehicle that slits the water molecule on demand. I would love to fill-up my fuel tank with water.
These hydrogen cars that are being talked about will use oxygen from the air, possibly suffocating people in extreme conditions. However, CORD should not worry anytime soon or ever as a matter of fact that we will need to start building Arks like Noah to avoid the great flood.
soulman
1.8 / 5 (6) Jan 14, 2011
If all that these cars produce for emissions, if everyone drove one eventually wouldn't the world have excess water?

Not excess water, but much increased water vapor, which is a greenhouse gas and contributes about 60% to the greenhouse effect. What net effect this would have if the world switched to water vapor producing transportation is open to debate.
Pitoucc
4 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2011
If all that these cars produce for emissions, if everyone drove one eventually wouldn't the world have excess water? Just curious I don't know much about how hydrogen fuel cells work but if anyone can enlighten me it would be much appreciated.


Most of the hydrogen that would be produced for these vehicles would come from a water source. Electrolysis would be used to sepertate water into hydrogen and oxygene. They could collect the water vapour from the exaust, convert it with energy from solar cells, and inject back into the hydrogen storage tank while the car is not in use.
TabulaMentis
not rated yet Jan 14, 2011
@Soulman:

What about rain?

@Pitoucc:

Until new tech is developed most of the hydrogen will be derived from crude oil.
PPihkala
not rated yet Jan 15, 2011
Until new tech is developed most of the hydrogen will be derived from crude oil.


How about reading comprehension: "Along with 10 Japanese energy groups including natural gas refiners and distributors,"

So the source of Japans hydrogen will be natural gas, which keeps people consuming hydrocarbons. Main benefit is probably less pollution at the consumption site.

But I also would like to know the price of fuel cells used and how durable those are, because these, along with hydrogen storage tech, have been the achilles heel of hydrogen vehicles.
TabulaMentis
not rated yet Jan 15, 2011
@PPihkala:

Yes, I saw the natural gas statement, however not every country/oil company will follow their lead.

There are three very interesting pro and con articles about this subject, though they were published a few years ago. The last article is the best in my opinion.

Hydrogen's Dirty Secret
Puncturing the Hydrogen Fuel Myth
The Myth of the Hydrogen Economy

I thought the fuel cells had to be exchanged with recharged fuel cells, but the article does talk about refueling stations?
Pitoucc
5 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2011
@Soulman:

What about rain?

@Pitoucc:

Until new tech is developed most of the hydrogen will be derived from crude oil.


I hope it wont come to that. Using a reformer to recover the hydrogen from producing oil and gas products wont contribute to a solution. Those companies would more then likely end up venting the co2, prodcued from recovering the hydrogen,into the atmosphere.