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Toyota Fine-S Concept hydrogen fuel cell vehicle

Toyota Highlander-based fuel cell vehicle
Toyota expects the market to be small, but avaialble

Toyota is moving forward despite the bad press and recalls and is looking to the future where it may be the first company to offer a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that is “affordable”. Toyota is targeting a price of $50,000 for its first retail hydrogen fuel vehicle. Bloomberg reports that the $50,000 figure reflects a 90% reduction in cost for hydrogen fuel cell technology since the mid-2000s.

The first hydrogen powered vehicle would be a sedan with a range equal to that of a gas-powered car. Toyota's Yashihiko Masuda, managing director for advanced automobiles said, "[The hydrogen vehicle would compare to gasoline vehicles] with some added cost."

Masuda said, "Our target is, we don’t lose money with introduction of the vehicle. Production cost should be covered within the price of the vehicle."

Toyota won't talk about how many of the vehicles it expects to sell. Masuda told
Bloomberg that the market would be small, but would have some support. The support would likely be mostly from local and state governments.

The biggest issue facing the adoption of hydrogen-powered vehicles isn’t the cost of buying the vehicles. The big issue is the fact that there is little to no infrastructure to speak of across the country. Most hydrogen fuel station are located in California, and even within California, there are but a handful. Hydrogen also currently costs much more than gasoline.

One of the cost cutting methods that Toyota used to help bring down the price of hydrogen vehicles was to use less platinum on the fuel cell construction. The automaker will reduce the platinum used in fuel cells from about 1.06 ounces per vehicle to the area of 10 grams per vehicle. The price for platinum now is about $1,675 per ounce.

Toyota isn't the only company looking at hydrogen vehicles, GM already has hydrogen powered vehicles in use that are leased to retail customers in the Los Angeles area.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and we can have it forever. We need to wake up the federal government."

Before GM starts retail sales in California, the automaker wants at least 40 hydrogen fuel stations in the Southern California area -- currently there are ten. GM believes that 40 stations could support 15 million drivers in the region.


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RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By cpeter38 on 5/7/2010 12:16:09 PM , Rating: 2
However, the definition of "explosion" in the various tests in that study is that the flame propagates. While that may be a nice experimental way to define an "explosion", I have a hard time equating that with a real explosion.

There are only two things that concern me about atmospheric hydrogen combustion:
1. The flame is very difficult to visually detect.
2. If there is a large amount in a contained space (such as a blimp full of hydrogen), the oxidation event could cause a significant pressure wave.

Here are a few things that make me feel much more safe about hydrogen powered vehicles:
1. The amount of energy contained in 1 kg of hydrogen is about the same as 1 gallon of gas. The typical hydrogen powered vehicle has significantly less than 10 kg of hydrogen when completely full (the long range of fuel cell vehicles is possible because the conversion to mechanical energy is MUCH more efficient than gasoline to mechanical energy).
2. If all safety systems failed and there were a fire, hydrogen fires radiate very little energy. There is almost no damage if the flame does not directly contact something else.
3. Hydrogen does not stay in the local area unless it is intentionally contained with engineered components. It is actually very difficult to keep hydrogen contained. Typically, precision machined components and seals are required. Therefor, any leak would rapidly dissipate into the atmosphere.
4. The safety systems on FCVs are much better that the safety systems on conventional cars.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By porkpie on 5/7/2010 1:58:49 PM , Rating: 2
"However, the definition of "explosion" in the various tests in that study is that the flame propagates"

Deflagration vs. detonation, to be precise. That's how all lower/upper explosivity limits are defined, even for gasoline. Still, a confined deflagation generates enormous pressures, and even an unconfined one can break 100psi.

If you prefer to work off detonation limits, they are, for H2, 18-59%, whereas gasoline operates at 1.1-3%. For H2, an unconfined detonation can generate an order of magnitude higher overpressures.

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