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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 geddarkstorm on 5/7/2010 1:24:51 PM , Rating: 1
Actually, reading that paper shows just how safe hydrogen is over gasoline!

The explosion pressure ratio to starting pressure conditions, at the highest, most explosive hydrogen point of 35% hydrogen, was only 8. That means, the pressure went up by 8x in the vessel over what it was set at originally. 8 atm by the way is only 117 PSI.

Moreover, the higher the operating temperature, the lower the explosive pressure. Higher storage pressure of the hydrogen also decreases the range at which hydrogen can be explosive, albeit not by much.

Finally, they used high voltage to spark the hydrogen (except one test which used a fusing, exploding, wire). And, since hydrogen has nearly 3000x less energy per volume as liquid gasoline in calorific measure (that is, explosive potential in this study), you are hardly going to get even a fizzle out of it relatively compared to the gasoline you cart around in your vehicle.

Really, the only "explosive" danger of hydrogen is the sudden decompression of a hydrogen storage tank. Furthermore, unlike gasoline, hydrogen isn't going to sit around and burn for a prolonged period of time since it'll diffuse. And it's that constant fire that is really what's dangerous to a person anyways. Hydrogen will be a flash and a bang, and that's about it., at worst. Only if it ignites some other source is it truly dangerous (or again, a really really high pressure storage tank explosively decompressing would also be extremely dangerous).

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By porkpie on 5/7/2010 1:53:18 PM , Rating: 3
"That means, the pressure went up by 8x in the vessel"

I'm sorry, but it doesn't work the way you think it does. Explosion overpressures are low for pretty much all flammable fluids and gases....they only "explode" if they're contained. This is in direct contrast to the so-called "high explosives", which do not need containment to generate a large explosive force.

Gasoline's explosive pressure is actually about 80% lower than that of H2. H2 is higher than gasoline, and about 4X higher than something like propane or methane.

"since hydrogen has nearly 3000x less energy per are hardly going to get even a fizzle"

That isn't the proper comparison, as the lower volumetric energy density at STP means you must compress much more H2 into a given volume. Hydrogen actually has higher energy per unit mass...but that isn't a valid comparison either.

The proper way to compare is to calculate the explosive yield per unit stored energy. If you do this, gasoline comes out slightly ahead of H2...but only slightly.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By sleepeeg3 on 5/7/2010 7:16:18 PM , Rating: 1
Hydrogen safe? Think again.

Take a look at the YouTube videos of exploding hydrogen balloons:

My chemistry teacher did this experiment in a small lecture hall with a balloon twice as big. I was about 30 feet away and it was about as loud as a shotgun blast, plus a hot compression wave.

Now imagine an accident and a compressed tank full of that igniting. Body parts everywhere! DailyTech even had an article showing that some companies even want to switch to fragile glass tubes!!!

Safe like the Hindenberg...

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By porkpie on 5/7/2010 10:14:00 PM , Rating: 3
"Take a look at the YouTube videos of exploding hydrogen balloons:"

Try the same experiment with gasoline. Youtube is a poor source for scientific knowledge.

The real facts are this. Gasoline and hydrogen both are far, far safer than the real danger for moving vehicles -- the kinetic energy of the car itself. Arguing over which is safer is essentially like standing on a cliff with vaseline-coated feet, wondering if that splinter in your finger is going to give you a nasty infection.

RE: News Flash: May 6, 2011
By geddarkstorm on 5/11/2010 12:42:22 PM , Rating: 2
I was taking from the paper itself directly. Did you see how they were calculating explosive pressure? They used the ratio of pressure during burning of the hydrogen in the container to the normal pressure. So, this is empirical data from the set-ups they had (as artificial as they were). Also, the /paper/ said that gasoline was around 3000x more energy per volume than hydrogen (I'm assuming they meant hydrogen in gas form, and that they are making the comparisons based on their test systems). If you have problems with that, take it up with the paper /you/ posted and the way they did their conclusions/calculations :P. But, I tend to believe empirical data over any other source as long as the methods are good.

Also, explosives are designed to shred apart AT the pressures created by the internal "explosive" event. If they were designed to take that much pressure, there would be no explosion. Scientific equipment is made like so such things can be measured and studied in the first place (as in this study)-- like "bomb" calorimeters.

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