Good News: Costs of Electric Propulsion Systems Based On Hydrogen Cells Go Down
|   Saturday, October 12, 2013
Toyota announced that it managed to reduce the amount of platinum and carbon fiber that is needed for the development of electric propulsion system based on hydrogen cells. This significantly decreases the final price of future models.

Thus, if the development of a prototype that uses this type of solution for propulsion costs about a million dollars, mass production of such a vehicle using hydrogen cells decreases to 51,000 dollars. This means that the price of a model that benefits from this type of propulsion will not exceed 100,000 dollars at launch.


"We aim to sell tens of thousands of fuel cell vehicles a year by sometime in the 2020s," Managing Officer Satoshi Ogiso told the press in Tokyo where Toyota displayed its advanced technologies.

Hitoshi Nomasa, Toyota engineer, said they have cut use of platinum from about 100 grams, as used by the fuel cell of its SUV model, to about 30 grams. Platinum sells on world markets at 1,380 dollars per ounce (28 grams). He continued by saying that even that figure will go down as improvements in platinum coating technology develop.

As an example, Diesel catalytic converters presently need 20 grams of platinum. Nomasa: "If we can bring it down to around there, then that would be about the same level of platinum being used in cars that are widely used."

Toyota will also cut down on carbon-fiber in the high-pressure hydrogen tanks and will switch to cheaper components to lessen costs.
The first hydrogen cell production model that Toyota will develop this decade's end will be launched in Japan, the US and Europe. These 3 markets are the only ones open for this tech right now.

Models fitted with hydrogen cells convert liquid hydrogen into electrical energy and water by means of oxygen and electrolysis. The electric energy thus obtained is used for the propulsion of the electric motor. Thus, we do not need batteries, while secondary product, water, comes as vapor from the tailpipe.

The autonomy of such machines is similar to that of models using gasoline and diesel engines, whereas charging times are the same as those happening today at the pump. The current main problem is the cost of infrastructure development. This is because hydrogen is difficult to get and involves a series of high costs to be captured and maintained under pressure.

"Earlier would have been better, but it's taken a long time to get to this point," said Satoshi Ogiso, the Toyota engineer in charge of fuel-cell development and electric-drive vehicle programs. "We've already started work on the next-generation vehicle. We can't wait."

Toyota's new model will carry approx 5 kg of compressed hydrogen in tanks that can be fully refilled in 3 minutes. At least that is the claim. Fueling is just as easy as today's gasoline pump. A sensor in the hose makes sure the attachment is tight, then the tank is filled to the maximum recommended pressure. Ogiso says total power will be about 100W.
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