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Toyota unveils prototype semi-truck powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology

By Shawn Knight ยท 7 replies
Apr 19, 2017
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  1. Toyota is hoping the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain from its mid-sized Mirai will find more success under the hood of a big rig.

    The Japanese automaker on Wednesday at the Port of Los Angeles unveiled a prototype semi-truck called Project Portal that uses the same fuel cell stacks found in the 4-door sedan (plus a 12 kWh battery pack).

    As Electrek notes, the powertrain is reportedly capable of generating more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound-feet of torque. With those figures, Toyota says it’s good for a gross combined weight capacity of 80,000 pounds and can travel more than 200 miles per fill.

    Toyota first unveiled its Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in 2014 but has only managed to sell a few thousand units cumulatively in subsequent years.

    Toyota said it is launching a feasibility study to examine potential use cases for the semi.

    Electrek isn’t all that optimistic regarding the project’s outlook. According to the publication, hydrogen isn’t likely to triumph over batteries for powering the next-generation of zero-emission transportation. That’s because, according to their claims, the entire end-to-end process from production to consumption is three times more energy efficient for battery-powered vehicles than hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

    Semi-trucks have been an area of heavy interest in the tech community as of late with players like Tesla, Otto (Uber) and Nikola Motor Company actively working to develop long-haul trucks.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,210   +1,882

    We are far too diverse a nation to rely on rail service, especially when you look at the number of semi's on the road at any given moment delivering products around the country. (Est. 4,500+ on weekdays and over 6,000 on weekends).

    There has been quite a bit written about the amount of energy required to make hydrogen, electric, etc, etc. I would lean towards an electric truck ONLY because it is conceivable to charge it via solar, add panels to the trailer to extend range, etc. and some of the proposed upgrades to Li-Ion battery technology.

    Now would be the time for some young person to actually invent a Star Trek "Replicator" so we could just solve the problem ..... Any takers?
  3. ManuelV

    ManuelV TS Booster Posts: 99   +41

    What if they use samsung batteries on it?
  4. Greg S

    Greg S TechSpot Staff Posts: 988   +422

    So I know it's a joke, but there actually wasn't anything wrong with the battery cells themselves. It was the fact that the batteries were put into a space that didn't have a proper 10% clearance for swelling to occur during discharge. As a result, the anode and cathode became forced closed enough together to get a short circuit, and thus a high intensity discharge which results in highly flammable lithium igniting.

    The Galaxy S8 appears to use exactly the same battery as the note 7 without any noticeable changes, and you can bet big money there won't be battery issues other than possibly less than desirable battery life.
    Reehahs likes this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,224   +425

    Really? It is more efficient to make battery powered vehicles than hydrogen? That doesn't seem possible... They must not be including the resources and time it takes to make the batteries. There is tons of resources that go into making batteries. But what do I know? Not much, really.
  6. turismozilla

    turismozilla TS Addict Posts: 164   +50

    "NOOOOOOOOoooooo............, we still have fossil fuels we can still sell." - A right winger line of thought.
  7. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,748   +647

    Well, consider this: water - H2O - (IIRC) requires the highest energy of pretty much any chemical compound to break it apart into it's constituent parts H and O. It is also one of the reasons that H is an attractive fuel - the energy yield when reacting with O to form H2O is significant. Also consider that each process used to split H2O is not 100% efficient. There is a reasonable discussion of the process here - https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120819034950AAHiEoy The article states that 286 kJ (286,000 J where J can be thought of as a watt per second) per mole of H2O which is about 18 grams of water. That is a very large amount of energy. Now factor in a process that is only 10% efficient, then that means that 2,860,000 J would be required to break 18 grams of H2O into H and O.

    Also consider that one other way of obtaining H is from petroleum products. Basically, you drill for oil, and through chemical processes, break off the H. It is quite an energy intensive and dirty process. There are other ways, too, of producing H, but they are, nevertheless, energy intensive.
  8. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,270

    A very scientific, and valid response but you for forget that when all is said and done, the main goal is cost effectiveness. Production and operational. Only time will tell which will be the better solution. For now, I'm putting my money on batteries.

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