Toyota shows off portable, swappable hydrogen cartridges

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,250   +159
Staff member
In a nutshell: Toyota has created a working prototype of a portable hydrogen cartridge that could make the alternative energy source more feasible for daily use. The idea is similar in concept to a propane tank, allowing users to quickly and easily swap out cartridges as needed. Toyota estimates that one cartridge could supply enough electricity to operate a typical household microwave for 3-4 hours.

The canister was developed in conjunction with subsidiary Woven Planet Holdings. It measures roughly 16 inches in length and is seven inches across with a target weight of 11 pounds.

The automaker conceded that most hydrogen today is generated with fossil fuels and is used to refine petroleum and make fertilizer. In the future, however, Toyota believes hydrogen will be created using very low carbon emission techniques and will be used in a wider array of applications.

Toyota didn't cite any specific use cases for its hydrogen cartridges, but an accompanying graphic depicts use in cars, drones, motorcycles and even to recharge mobile devices.

The automaker said the Japanese government is actively working on studies to promote the safe adoption of hydrogen, adding that they are excited to support the efforts.

Toyota's main goal, we're told, is to realize a carbon-neutral society where everyone can access clean energy. Their efforts will start in Japan before expanding worldwide. Interested parties can get a closer look at the prototype during the Super Taikyu Series 2022 racing event at Fuji Speedway from June 3-5.

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defaultluser

Posts: 440   +353
Why aren't more companies looking at Ammonia (NH3) powered cars?

https://www.ammoniaenergy.org/

Because, outside of tractors and Generators, there is no existing infrastructure of widely-available Ammonia. it's also pretty corrosive fr an engine fuel.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/er.6232

And, if you're planning on using it to convert to H2 for a fuel cell, then why ot just use the already-ubiquitous Natural Gas Reforming to produce H2 everyone else is using?

https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-natural-gas-reforming

 

ypsylon

Posts: 523   +543
Manufacturing Hydrogen from fossil fuels is DoA. We generate even more pollution than just burning petrol or diesel. Only water electrolysis is viable solution. Taking cost from ~6$/kg to 1-2$ should be priority and not Big Oil manure of blue, brown, grey H2. They are just terrified to the bone they'll lose all the money and they want to convince people they are still relevant for hydrogen, which they are not.

As for idea of a H2 cartridge. Well for some city small cars yeah perhaps. Considering that building new H2 infrastructure is an issue in a big metropolis, but for normal cars/trucks and general long distance travel it's just dumb. Plus each cartridge will add its own fair share of pollution and waste (especially if we talking hard plastics).
 

stewi0001

Posts: 2,767   +2,533
The kicker is getting the hydrogen itself....
Long ago, a guy and myself had a discussion about utilizing hydrogen as a method of storing and transporting energy. Main conclusion was to use renewable sources to perform electrolysis. Of course there are a lot of details to work out.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,440   +5,755
Long ago, a guy and myself had a discussion about utilizing hydrogen as a method of storing and transporting energy. Main conclusion was to use renewable sources to perform electrolysis. Of course there are a lot of details to work out.
I had similar conversations in high school chemistry class and later with co workers. Electrolysis seems like the perfect idea, except for the PITA that is physics. The electrical load required to make substantial amounts of hydrogen is astronomical. Nuclear is realistically the only power type that can sustain significant electrolysis production on any sort of scale, short of finding some kind of sacrificial annode that can be used to dramatically reduce energy consumption.

That's always been the check that keeps hydrogen from really expanding. I remember there was that carbon sequation technology that norway was working on that could turn CO2 back into gasoline or diesel. I wonder whatever happened to that project.
Manufacturing Hydrogen from fossil fuels is DoA. We generate even more pollution than just burning petrol or diesel. Only water electrolysis is viable solution. Taking cost from ~6$/kg to 1-2$ should be priority and not Big Oil manure of blue, brown, grey H2. They are just terrified to the bone they'll lose all the money and they want to convince people they are still relevant for hydrogen, which they are not.

As for idea of a H2 cartridge. Well for some city small cars yeah perhaps. Considering that building new H2 infrastructure is an issue in a big metropolis, but for normal cars/trucks and general long distance travel it's just dumb. Plus each cartridge will add its own fair share of pollution and waste (especially if we talking hard plastics).
You can rail against oil all you want, many of your favorite "green" techs are reliant on materials made from oil or produce catastrophic amounts of waste. Enviromental groups have huge blinders on when it comes to "CO2" and ignore the rammifications of "green" technology. Like the toxic runoff from chinese factories making solar panels, or the resin blades from wind turbines that have to be periodically replaced and cant be recycled.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,939   +7,908
Speaking strictly from memory here but I thought I read awhile back that the cost to produce hydrogen (energy wise) was far more than gasoline. If Toyota could produce removeable / swappable electric cells that would universally fit in their electric vehicles I would think that would be far more attractive to the end users .....
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,838   +6,824
Manufacturing Hydrogen from fossil fuels is DoA. We generate even more pollution than just burning petrol or diesel. Only water electrolysis is viable solution. Taking cost from ~6$/kg to 1-2$ should be priority and not Big Oil manure of blue, brown, grey H2. They are just terrified to the bone they'll lose all the money and they want to convince people they are still relevant for hydrogen, which they are not.
Absolutely. Hydrogen from fossil fuels is exceptionally dirty.

There has, however, been significant research in the field, and I think the use of electrolysis and catalysts is the future - https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/01/220114153429.htm
 
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Mr Majestyk

Posts: 1,277   +1,156
I still think hydrogen is a more realistic future fuel then EVs, especially for anythng long range, heavy, or both. Refueling hydrogen tanks is a lot easier.

The kicker is getting the hydrogen itself....

Firstly, hydrogen energy density sucks, it half that of current dinosaur tech Li Ion batteries. Secondly 96% of the world's hydrogen is made from fossil fuels, only 4% is green. Thirdly solid sate batteries are getting very close and will make hydrogen look even less feasible for transport options and without the safety issues. Hydrogen has a future in making cleaner steel, concrete etc, not as a transport fuel.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,667   +1,664
I think the use of electrolysis and catalysts [to produce hydrogen] is the future -
Of course, if you take that route, hydrogen isn't an energy source at all, but simply a rather unwieldy chemical battery. For all that trouble, one might as well add CO2, and synthesize gasoline directly. Modern engines produce so little pollution already, and such a fuel would be inherently carbon-neutral.
 

DaveBG

Posts: 628   +294
I still think hydrogen is a more realistic future fuel then EVs, especially for anythng long range, heavy, or both. Refueling hydrogen tanks is a lot easier.

The kicker is getting the hydrogen itself....
Do not get fooled by the current prototypes that kind of work. In reality it is basically impossible to work in scale. It is so complicated and the charge stations are so expensive and so dangerous that no one will be able to make it.
 

Freddie159

Posts: 107   +72
Dont you think its a bit dangerous. Hydrogen it more explosive and dangerous.

That's the point of the tanks, millions and millions of people drive around in their rv's with propane tank inside or outside of them and probably 10 times that many have them at their homes for gas grills, fire pits etc.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,667   +1,664
millions and millions of people drive around in their rv's with propane tank...
I don't wish to overplay the danger factor of hydrogen -- as there are dozens of more compelling reasons why it will won't see widespread acceptance in the next half-century -- but you honestly can't compare it to propane. Propane's explosive limits are quite narrow (between 2% and 9% concentration in air), whereas hydrogen can explode anywhere from 4% to 75%. Those small propane tanks operate around 100psi, whereas hydrogen tanks need 10,000 psi to get decent energy density -- even if the hydrogen itself doesn't explode, the simple mechanical energy of compression makes the tank itself a bomb. And of course, due to hydrogen embrittlement, you pretty much have to use carbon fiber or a composite of some sort for the tank walls.
 

Axeia

Posts: 44   +44
Manufacturing Hydrogen from fossil fuels is DoA. We generate even more pollution than just burning petrol or diesel. Only water electrolysis is viable solution. Taking cost from ~6$/kg to 1-2$ should be priority and not Big Oil manure of blue, brown, grey H2. They are just terrified to the bone they'll lose all the money and they want to convince people they are still relevant for hydrogen, which they are not.

As for idea of a H2 cartridge. Well for some city small cars yeah perhaps. Considering that building new H2 infrastructure is an issue in a big metropolis, but for normal cars/trucks and general long distance travel it's just dumb. Plus each cartridge will add its own fair share of pollution and waste (especially if we talking hard plastics).
If only they had used this cartridge system for batteries to begin with. Instead of having to wait for things to charge have a robot swap the batteries around and you are good to go. But that would require standardisation between manufacturers so that's not going to happen. Charging could just happen at the 'gas ' station.

If they couldn't do it with batteries I don't see why they'd succeed with hydrogen. (I do realise that batteries wear out and hydrogen cartridges should do to a much lesser degree but in the end that's all just cost calculations).

Instead of electrolysis which requires a lot of electricity to get a little bit of hydrogen out. I think algae are the future, if they can bio engineer a strain to produce enough hydrogen to be economically viable it has a lot of benefits. The dead algae can be repurposed for livestock feed, we don't need expensive solar panels turning sunlight into electricity to turn that into hydrogen. The algae is already an environmentally friendly solar panel and hydrogen convertor itself and it absorbs carbon dioxide in the process.

So if they can get it efficient enough, a bio degradable, carbon dioxide consuming all green solution to produce fuel that burns completely clean. If that isn't promising I don't know what is. It is going to require vast quantities of water and land surface though. Two things becoming more and more scarce and expensive. For fuel for transport it makes sense. I don't think it could ever scale up to power the planet but hey Thorium reactors are looking promising.
 

Vrmithrax

Posts: 1,598   +667
If only they had used this cartridge system for batteries to begin with. Instead of having to wait for things to charge have a robot swap the batteries around and you are good to go. But that would require standardisation between manufacturers so that's not going to happen. Charging could just happen at the 'gas ' station.
A company called "Better Place" had this thought and was working on something in the early 2000s, but didn't gain any traction and eventually went under. They were working with a car company (Renault I think?) to make low cost electric vehicles that were everything but the batter, and the battery module was a modular component that could be removed and swapped easily. The idea was that people could get into an EV cheap, and the company would own and manage the battery hardware. Think a subscription kind of service for the batteries. You could charge up normally, or drive into a setup similar to a small automated car wash, where a robot would drop the battery from below the car and swap in a fresh one - 5 minutes to a full charge, back on the road. It eliminated the headaches of consumers dealing with aging batteries, keeping up with new battery tech, etc. Clever idea, probably a bit ahead of its time, they even did pilot programs in a few places.

The hot swap service was the part that was most interesting to me. Something that many existing fuel stations could adopt to create the infrastructure to handle supplying refreshed batteries, spreading a network throughout areas with existing gasoline stations. Too bad it failed to coalesce into something viable.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,838   +6,824
Of course, if you take that route, hydrogen isn't an energy source at all, but simply a rather unwieldy chemical battery. For all that trouble, one might as well add CO2, and synthesize gasoline directly. Modern engines produce so little pollution already, and such a fuel would be inherently carbon-neutral.
There is already research in that field, too. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2213343720311052 and that's only one paper among several that show up in a search.

IMO, to quote from Kosh of Babylon 5 "The avalanche has started, its too late for the pebbles to vote" for the tide of electrified vehicles.

To me, it seems rather redundant to emit CO2, convert it back to fuel, emit CO2, convert it back to fuel ad-infinitum. It brings to mind that quote from Einstein - I am sure you know the one about doing things over and over and expecting different results.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,667   +1,664
To me, it seems rather redundant to emit CO2, convert it back to fuel, emit CO2, convert it back to fuel ad-infinitum.
True -- except when you add carbon to hydrogen, it solves all the storage, distribution, and energy-density problems of the fuel .... and allows you to use all our existing vehicles and gas stations unchanged. Not as flashy perhaps as a pure hydrogen solution, but certainly more practical.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,838   +6,824
True -- except when you add carbon to hydrogen, it solves all the storage, distribution, and energy-density problems of the fuel .... and allows you to use all our existing vehicles and gas stations unchanged. Not as flashy perhaps as a pure hydrogen solution, but certainly more practical.
Honestly, I do not know why anyone would want to continue using the current technology when it is exceptionally polluting.

True, tail pipe emissions have fallen greatly though they are not zero, but transportation of fuel to market, refining of fuel (excluding anyone actually commercializing CO2 to fuel conversion using catalysts) and not to mention the need for engine oil are all polluting aspects that EVs do not have.

And I understand the current argument about batteries not being environmentally friendly. However, this is an area of extensive research, and as I said and linked in this post, battery recycling is becoming big business where companies can now actually make a profit - not to mention that it looks like the battery industry may be on the verge of developing something far more environmentally friendly. All the research that is happening in the area is not stalled, IMO, one day, it will get to market.

On top of that EVs will likely have far less service requirements and in the long run, will likely have a TCO substantially less than "our existing vehicles".

And about those gas stations - I can, perhaps, see the need for charging stations for people who do not own homes, however, those people who do own homes would likely rarely need to visit a charging station in everyday driving. The way I see it, gas stations are a different model for a different type of vehicle and apply much less to the EV vehicle model - a point which I covered here.

With your science background, it makes no sense to me why you would advocate to just keep doing the same things over and over and expect different results. Everyone needs a new vehicle periodically anyway.