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Transportation Japan Power

Toyota's Fuel Cell Car To Launch In Japan Next March 216

puddingebola writes with news that Toyota will be bringing its first fuel-cell car to market in Japan next March. It's expected to cost about $68,700, and Toyota plans to bring it to the U.S. and European markets later that summer. With two of Japan’s three biggest automakers going all in on fuel cells, the country’s long-term future as an automotive powerhouse could now hinge largely on the success of what they hope will be an important technology in the next few decades. ... Japan’s governing party is pushing for ample subsidies and tax breaks for consumers to bring the cost of a fuel-cell car down to about $20,000 by 2025. The government is also aiming to create 100 hydrogen fuel stations by the end of March 2016 in urban areas where the vehicles will be sold initially. ... Hydrogen vehicles can run five times longer than battery-operated electric cars, and their tanks can be filled in just a few minutes, compared with recharging times from 30 minutes up to several hours for electric cars.
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Toyota's Fuel Cell Car To Launch In Japan Next March

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  • Nice to see. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:02PM (#47317583)

    Right now at the Gas Pump we have 87, 89 and 91 gas.
    Having this change to Gas, Charging, and Hydrogen would be a welcome sign.
    The problem we have with our energy policies is that we are trying to find a sliver bullet. This isn't the case anymore, we will need to have a more diverse set of engines that run on different methods. This will allow for greater competition in the energy market and keep price per performance uniform.

  • by Sqr(twg) ( 2126054 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:33PM (#47317897)

    the only reduction in CO2 comes from the centralization of production

    ...where you can do CO2 sequestration and, theoretically, bring emissions down to zero.

    (Other than that, I agree with everything you wrote. I worked in R&D on automotive fuel cells for seven years and quit because I believe there's no future in it. They might have been a good idea when the competition was lead-acid batteries, but not any longer.)

  • Re:Nice to see. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:47PM (#47318029)

    Going to hydrogen gas is also NOT a environmentally sound solution either.

    Dispute the press and common belief otherwise, moving to Hydrogen does not reduce emissions overall, but is actually worse. Now I'm not saying that what comes out of the tailpipe of a hydrogen powered car is anything but water and heat, but the issue is where and how you produce hydrogen gas on an industrial scale. You basically have two choices on how you want to produce hydrogen gas, electrolysis or reforming natural gas.

    Electrolysis is extremely inefficient. You loos about 50% of the electrical energy you put into this process. For now, electricity is produced MOSTLY from fossil fuels (especially in Japan right now) so it would be more efficient to just burn the fossil fuel in the automobile. Heck, it's more efficient to use a rechargeable battery instead of electrolysis and hydrogen as fuel.

    Reforming Natural Gas is also not efficient and releases significant amounts of carbon-dioxide. I do not know the exact numbers on how efficient this process is, but it involves heating the gas and passing it though a catalyst, then compressing and cooling to separate the gas fractions to isolate the hydrogen gas. This requires both electricity and natural gas to do. This is obviously going to waste energy. So one can confidently claim that using this method is clearly going to be inefficient compared to just burning natural gas as a motor fuel. (Not to mention that there are problems with using hydrogen produced from this process in fuel cells due to the impurities produced from the hydrocarbon used as a source of hydrogen.)

    All this is just simply nuts if you ask me. What we need to really do is burn natural gas as motor fuel, at least for the foreseeable future. If we ever really run out of fossil fuels (or if we want to plan to stop using them) then the only choices are electric power (rechargeable batteries, with renewable sources/Nuclear/Fission) and bio-mass fuels (diesel from vegetable oil, alcohol) assuming the latter doesn't cause food shortages and starve folks.

  • Re:Hydrogen? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Motard ( 1553251 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:55PM (#47318115)

    This is a common, but knee-jerk reaction. But as bad as it looked, I think many would be surprised to learn that most of the people aboard the Hindenburg survived the disaster despite it being engulfed in flames hundreds of feet off the ground.

    Imagine if it were filled with gasoline fumes. Everyone on board would've been dead as well as most of the people on the ground.

    Toyota was fired bullets at its pressurized tanks. Regular bullets just bounced. 50 cal rounds too chunks out. It took an armor piercing round to penetrate the tank. When that happened, the hydrogen simply leaked out. And, being lighter than air, it just rose up into the atmosphere instead of pooling on the ground.

  • Re:10000 PSI Bomb (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @04:11PM (#47318277)

    Actually, given the standard size of a car and the amount of energy you could store in each of the three cases discussed, I would think that gasoline would be the hands down winner for the biggest boom. Hydrogen would run dead last.

    Hydrogen's biggest benefit would be that any leaks would quickly dissipate, epically out doors, while hydrocarbons sink and stay close to the ground.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake