Toyota Plunges Into Crowded Hydrogen Gas Cell Truck Pool, With A Bang

Indicators {that a} gas cell truck revolution is coming to the US have been few and much between. Nonetheless, exercise is lastly starting to select up. Toyota has simply jumped into the pool with each ft first, however the firm higher not look again. One thing could be gaining on it.

A Entire New Gas Cell Truck Ecosystem

Hydrogen emits simply water and no airborne pollution when deployed in a gas cell to generate electrical energy, however it’s produced primarily from pure fuel, together with coal to a lesser extent.

The fossil vitality provide chain places hydrogen gas cell vehicles at an obstacle, in comparison with charging up an EV with electrical energy from renewable assets. In recent times, although, the price of extra sustainable hydrogen has come down and new options are rising.

One a part of the brand new, extra sustainable hydrogen provide chain includes squeezing hydrogen from biogas, derived from natural matter. New York Metropolis, San Antonio, Dallas, and Philadelphia are among the many municipal early adopters searching for to make hydrogen financial institution from their natural wastewater. Livestock operations, different agricultural wastes, and landfills are amongst different biogas assets.

Toyota has been pursuing the agricultural biogas angle by the Tri-Gen challenge, which is a key aspect within the firm’s efforts to decarbonize its Toyota Logistics Companies automobile processing facility on the Port of Lengthy Seaside, in California.

The Tri-Gen challenge showcases built-in biogas-to-hydrogen expertise developed by the US firm FuelCell Power. Building started in 2017 and was declared to be full earlier this week by Toyota and FuelCell.

Tri-Gen deploys agricultural biowaste from in-state sources to supply renewable hydrogen as gas for Toyota’s gas cell autos, together with the Mirai sedan and a brand new Class 8 gas cell truck, in addition to a hydrogen gas station to maintain all of them operating.

Tri-Gen’s hydrogen gas cells may also be used to generate electrical energy to run the Lengthy Seaside facility. Any extra will be shunted again to the grid.

The gas cells may also emit about 1,400 gallons of water every day when in operation. The water will likely be used for laundry autos at Lengthy Department, relieving native freshwater assets from that responsibility.

Class 8 Gas Cell Vans & Pickup Vans, Too

Toyota launched its Class 8 hydrogen gas cell truck enterprise in 2017 below the identify Undertaking Portal, and issues appear to be transferring alongside. Final spring the California Air Sources Board licensed the corporate’s hydrogen gas cell powertrain package, a soup-to-nuts system that features storage tanks, gas cell stacks, batteries, electrical motors and transmission.

By providing an all-in-one package deal, Toyota goals to draw truck and bus makers that might in any other case lean in the direction of diesel expertise. Toyota plans to begin manufacturing the package at its manufacturing facility in Kentucky earlier than the top of this yr.

Preserve an eye fixed out for the primary off-takers. Toyota has already been partnering on gas cell vehicles with Kenworth and Peterbilt. Each firms are branches of the PACCAR agency, which has acquired a grant from the US Division of Power’s “Tremendous Truck 3” program to construct gas cell vehicles.

Class 8 vehicles should not the one new gas cell vehicles in Toyota’s sights. Final yr, the corporate additionally started dropping hints about delivering a gas cell pickup truck to the market. Positive sufficient, earlier this week it unveiled the newest prototype model of the brand new truck, below the identify Hilux.

“The brand new powertrain makes use of core components from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen gas cell electrical sedan — expertise that has proved its high quality in nearly 10 years of economic manufacturing. When pushed, the gas cell produces no tailpipe emissions aside from pure water,” Toyota defined.

The Mirai connection is fascinating as a result of Toyota has suffered by a heaping ton of criticism over its years-long wrestle to promote its Mirai gas cell sedans within the US. The Mirai might but fall into the dustbin of automotive historical past, however its gas cell innards might keep it up life within the sturdy marketplace for pickup vehicles.

Extra Gas Cell Vans For The USA

Whereas Toyota has been busy, different automakers have additionally been chasing the electrical gas cell truck dream.

The primary identify that involves thoughts is the US startup Nikola. The corporate has bounced again after a sequence of ups and downs (see extra CleanTechnica protection right here), with the ups together with a brand new gas cell partnership with Bosch. The corporate started producing business variations of its Class 8 gas cell truck over the summer season and expects buyer deliveries to start later this yr.

Ultimately rely, Nikola had 18 clients lined up for a complete of 202 autos. The corporate credit the California Air Sources Board with offering hefty monetary incentives to spice up demand.

To not be outdone, Hyundai teased its XCIENT Class 8 gas cell truck for the US market a few years in the past. It adopted by final spring, introducing the brand new gas cell tractor on the Superior Clear Transportation Expo in California.

Daimler Truck North America is one other one to look at. The corporate can also be collaborating within the Power Division’s Tremendous Truck 3 program in a staff with Oregon State College.  The staff is tasked with engineering a Class 8 gas cell truck with a 600-mile vary. The thought is to satisfy, then beat, diesel vehicles on payload functionality and different efficiency parameters.

However What About The Gas?

Circling round to the hydrogen gas station query, that’s query. Fleet house owners that have already got gas depots might have a chance to put in their very own hydrogen stations, relying on the associated fee and alternative.

Public gas stations are few and much between. Nevertheless, the community is starting to develop. A lot of the exercise is happening in California, the place the corporate FirstElement Gas, for instance, plans to extend its public hydrogen gas stations from 31 to 80 by subsequent yr.

Hyundai has already partnered with FirstElement Gas for entry to the True Zero hydrogen gas stations, that are in use by the three XCIENT vehicles presently being examined on California roads.

Cellular gas stations are one other answer. The XCIENT take a look at run additionally contains fueling up at FirstElement’s cellular station, which can also be offering gas to different vehicles in improvement.

Leaping the gun considerably, Nikola is already anticipating that the logistics of transporting hydrogen to gas stations and different amenities might assist drum up gross sales of its Tre Class 8 gas cell truck. Final December, the corporate introduced a 75-truck cope with the US inexperienced hydrogen agency Plug Energy, which plans to make use of them for hauling its liquid hydrogen tankers.

One other twist is the micro-mini all-in-one inexperienced hydrogen generator and fueling station. The US agency IVYS Power Techniques has developed one sufficiently small to slot in a parking spot. The built-in system deploys photo voltaic vitality to jolt inexperienced hydrogen fuel from water.

The Excessive E off-road battery-electric racing circuit has additionally noticed a chance to showcase progressive gas cell expertise that would some day make its solution to the US.  In 2022, Excessive E deployed transportable EV charging stations, every operating on gas cells powered by inexperienced hydrogen, for members to recharge their batteries in distant off-road areas.

Final yr Excessive E went a step farther and introduced that its 2024 schedule will embody a hydrogen gas cell race referred to as Excessive H, so keep tuned for extra on that.

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Picture: Tri-Gen decarbonization facility that includes a hydrogen gas station for gas cell autos (courtesy of Toyota).

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