Toyota Tests Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Semitruck Concept

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It wasn't that long ago that Toyota became the first manufacturer to sell a mass-produced fuel-cell car, the Mirai, and we were wondering how easy they were to refuel.

But now, with Nikola and Tesla preparing to produce electric big-rig tractor trailers, Toyota is jumping into the game, too. If it goes well, you can bet Toyota will bring that technology to full-size and possibly mid-size pickup trucks.

Toyota just announced that it has engineered a concept semitruck with a pair of Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell stacks and a 12-kilowatt-hour battery pack to study real-world applications. The concept truck produces an equivalent of 670 horsepower and 1,325 pounds-feet of torque, and is reported to be significantly faster to 55 mph than a traditionally equipped commercial diesel big rig. Toyota says the concept has a range of more than 200 miles under normal road conditions.

The experiment, called Project Portal, could be the beginning of a completely different way of thinking about heavy-duty trucks and the amount of carbon dioxide they put into the atmosphere. The study will take place at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — two of the busiest in the country — this summer. Cargo-carrying big rigs move a lot of tonnage around the country, so if there was infrastructure in place to support zero-emissions hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, the clean air benefits could be huge.

"Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles play a role in California's efforts to achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, improve air quality, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels," said Janea A. Scott, a member of the California Energy Commission, in a statement. "That's why the California Energy Commission is investing in the refueling infrastructure needed to support adoption of these vehicles. The Commission applauds Toyota for putting this cutting edge technology to use in a heavy-duty freight proof of concept. This demo will show how fuel cells can help support the heavy-duty sector's efforts to increase efficiency, transition to zero-emission technologies, and increase competitiveness."

There's no doubt this could decrease the trucking industry's carbon footprint, but with gas prices still relatively low, a lack of fuel-cell repair shops, limited battery capabilities and nonexistent truck-stop hydrogen fueling stations, it's difficult to imagine this happening in the next decade. A better option could be adapting the system to work-oriented full-size, half-ton or other types of work-oriented pickups. Personal-use fuel-cell pickups could use the growing number of hydrogen fueling stations popping up in California's major cities (there are almost two dozen in Los Angeles), but clearly more needs to happen before electric pickups, let alone hydrogen-powered electric pickups, become a reasonable economic choice for everyday consumers.

Manufacturer images

 

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Comments

Pretty cool

papajim and others,
It's good to be all Stars and Stripes, like most of us.

There is one exception. Your comments make you look like fools.

Tesla pickup is very possible but a Chinese pickup is more possible. Why? Because China is much larger and more powerful than the US.

But, luckily most of us Stars and Strips types are not like you, insecure individuals.

I suppose you are weak and must put others down to hide your lack of confidence in yourself and others', particularly our great nation the USA by bashing China.

Please don't make all of us look stupid like papajim.

I do think diesel will eventually become the fuel of choice for light commercial vehicles in the US for pickups that work.

We have seen the pickup become a car/CUV of late. This will also allow for a niche EV pickup market. These pickups will need to be small.

Who will pickup the bill to make EV pickups cheap enough to buy?

You are correct about the urban pickup driver, who make up by far the largest majority.

The problem I foresee is who will cover the cost of subsidizing the purchase of these vehicles.

The EV will not drop in price for some time. The reason is resources are required to make EV vehicles competitive with fossil fuel vehicles. This research in batteries will cost a lot and someone will have to pay the price.

In the medium term I see diesel or better still compression ignition as the answer.

Just another gimmick for the likes of UPS , FedEx, JB Hunt , Warner ect ect at the top to exploit for TAX swoon programs from Uncle Sam via EPA/FMCSA/DOT loons to promote a image of "green" LOL green from your pocket to theirs.
Hows that propane working out for you?? MAuahhahahahaahaha

Yes and this:
The Chevy's 6.2-liter V8 proves true the old adage that there’s no replacement for displacement as soon as you step on the gas pedal. It earned higher marks in our tow testing, and its interior layout is preferred among our testers (and their wives). The Silverado is a proven commodity.

I know there are a lot of lonely Ford owners out their, because the women prefer hanging with the chevy guys. LOL

Anyways, I'm off in the High Country with the wife to pick up some beachwear.

Although the Ford may have scored higher overall on our score sheets, the Silverado is still a great truck – in fact, we know that some people will want the more traditional Silverado in their driveway, and we certainly wouldn't discount it. The Chevy's 6.2-liter V8 proves true the old adage that there’s no replacement for displacement as soon as you step on the gas pedal. It earned higher marks in our tow testing, and its interior layout is preferred among our testers (and their wives). The Silverado is a proven commodity.

I didn`t have too look no farther than right here on Pickup trucks.com. http://special-reports.pickuptrucks.com/2015-light-duty-v-8-challenge.html Can you say FORD FAIL.

In the medium term I see diesel or ... compression ignition as the answer.
Posted by: Big Willy | Apr 20, 2017 12:19:05 PM

@Big Willy and the others

The answer? You did not ask a question!

Regarding the movement of heavy freight, maritime (rivers, oceans) and rail are STILL the answer. Rail is way cheaper per mile and reasonably fast from coast to coast.

In regard to semi trucks, the most promising green solution for intra-state and local delivery by far is natural gas. Requires the fewest infrastructure improvements and is super clean regarding soot, engine life and all around performace. Check out what Saddle Creek Logistics is doing in this regard.

Good luck with your MPD

EPA FE figures are not accurate. The test conditions in no way reflect what is actually occurring in the real world.

Take the new aluminum F-150 wonder pickup. There is much proof that the 2.7 EcoBoost is returning between 15-17mpg.

This figure is far off the Ford figures given to the EPA.

Driven as most normal people drive you will see a the 2.5 far exceed the 2.7 EcoBoost aluminum F-150 with FE.

The diesel Ram and Colorado will even widen this FE deficient gap even further from the 2.7 EcoBoost aluminum F-150.

Turbo boost equates to fuel usage.

No matter what is said and done to accelerate mass as in most driving situations of slowing down, stopping, accelerating, etc the heavier the vehicle the more fuel it will use.

Add to this the turbo which again forces a much larger fuel/air mix into the combustion chamber to give you this acceleration you will see FE rise even further than a NA engine.

I would think a diesel is the best engine followed by a V8 for a pickup that is used as a truck.

These little turbo EcoBoost engines are good for most pickup owners as pickups never tow or carry a load. They are just large SUVs and cars, not a truck in the real sense.

Diesel is the future.

Diesel is the future.

This " Toyota" is a rebadged Peterbuilt. 670hp and a realatively paltry 1350lbs ft of torque is pretty anemic compared to many European trucks.
I think it is aimed as an alternative to the US Highway market
Toyota would have to build a conventional rather the Cabover Truck.
It' current Cabover Hino 700 is their Class 8 truck

But now, with Nikola and Tesla preparing to produce electric big-rig tractor trailers, Toyota is jumping into the game, too.
If it goes well, you can bet Toyota will bring that technology to full-size and possibly mid-size pickup
/QUOTE

My money says it wont,,
those hydrogen powered Mirai cars are total flop,as theres not enough refueling stations to make these practical for long distance driving,,

When Nikola co. builds all those hydrogen stations will they allow hydrogen powered cars and pickups to fill up there also?

I think hybrid electric drivetrain such as used by Viamotors ,Chevy Volt and Workhorse chasis is way more practical and doable right now

@papajim--I'd like to drive a hybrid car, but I'm not sure if its for me.

Looks a lot like a Kenworth to me...

The vast majority of the commentary above does not belong in this thread. However, I see a different issue that is directly related to the article:

Why the DEVIL is the fuel cell stack behind the driver when there is more than enough room under the hood? Based on the 'ghost' image, there's almost nothing under the hood and that's enough space to hold that stack very well, along with helping to improve steering traction considering how much weight typically rides on the drive axles.

Additionally, the stack as presented is highly risky, especially for the driver when you consider the hydrogen tank, or at least the largest one, is behind the driver's head. If for any reason that tank would blow, the driver is almost certainly dead.

Now, I fully believe HFC could be extremely beneficial to OTR trucking in many ways, cost notwithstanding. If offers the potential of high horsepower and torque to help maintain speed on grades along with an ability to recover some of that energy through regenerative braking into the battery pack and reduce risk of runaways. The fuel cell can mean you're not burning fuel which might seem like an advantage (good for pollution) but the current price of something like $18/kg of hydrogen almost doubles the fuel cost to cover the same range. This could be a serious drawback unless they find a way to pull that price down. Seeing as the feeder fuel for cracking hydrogen is a hydrocarbon itself, that seems unlikely any time soon.

So the concept comes across as potentially beneficial in many ways but at the same time raises the question of its economy as a result.

Where are we getting this Hydrogen from? Unless you're using H2 production to balance load on a Nuclear Power plant, its academic at best.

"Where are we getting this Hydrogen from? Unless you're using H2 production to balance load on a Nuclear Power plant, its academic at best." -- Posted by: Mr Knowitall

The hydrogen is being cracked from hydrocarbons--Natural Gas, to be specific. Considering the energy needed to steam the gas, you're effectively doubling the cost of the fuel just to eliminate any exhaust gasses from the stack.

@Road Whale- somewhat rhetorical question. When you reform NG (CH4), you can use the remaining "C" for thermal generation, but that releases evil CO2. NG, btw, is only cheap as long as we're fracking for oil. Once reformed, H2 distribution is also rather energy intensive. Of course, you could just reform it on-board, but then you might as well just use a turbine.

@Knowitall and Roadwhale

Hydrogen is an exciting power choice for the future several decades away. The near term choice is not very practical due to the massive investment in infrastructure required. Calculations about fuel price per unit go haywire when the cost of the infrastructure build-out is added in.

I'd favor hydrogen in fixed units such as power generation, especially in places where local air pollution demands are balanced against the upfront costs of creating hydrogen infrastructure. Los Angeles comes to mind.

Small scale hydrogen engines for trucks/autos are too impractical and adoption is a long way off in my opinion.

@Knowitall and Roadwhale

Hydrogen is an exciting power choice for the future several decades away. The near term choice is not very practical due to the massive investment in infrastructure required. Calculations about fuel price per unit go haywire when the cost of the infrastructure build-out is added in.

I'd favor hydrogen in fixed units such as power generation, especially in places where local air pollution demands are balanced against the upfront costs of creating hydrogen infrastructure. Los Angeles comes to mind.

Small scale hydrogen engines for trucks/autos are too impractical and adoption is a long way off in my opinion.



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