Stuttgart, traditionally known for its car industry was the final stop on our tour. However we were not here to see cars……our interest was focussed on the DLR (the German Aerospace Centre) and the presentation of a commercially viable hydrogen plane for the future.
Here we saw how far hydrogen technology is spreading into every aspect of our lives.
The DLR and H2Fly presented a hydrogen powered aeroplane, the HY4, capable of transporting 4 people in emission free flight up to 1500km.
The HY4 is the world’s first four seater passenger aircraft powered solely by a hydrogen fuel cell and electric propulsion system. It makes low noise, emits no particulate matter and makes CO2 free air travel a reality.
The vision in Germany is to develop an “electric air taxi” network that will link the 60+ regional and international airports. This will be the beginning of fast and flexible passenger transportation that can greatly contribute to reducing road congestion as well as bringing development opportunities to these regional transport hubs.
The next step is to produce a 40 seater aeroplane – “watch this space” or more appropriately “the skies”.
We’ll leave the last word to Josef Kallo, Energy Systems Integrator from the DLR – the sky is not the limit for Hydrogen!
Mannheim was the starting point of an historic event way back in 1888 and the 4th stop on our tour. Bertha Benz drove the Patent Motorwagen from Mannheim to Pforzheim a distance of 106km that represented the first real drive over a considerable distance.
The topic of our visit was how hydrogen is being entwined into the manufacturing industry of high energy consuming processes. This was the question that Friatec asked themselves and resulted in the creation of a “first-of-its-kind” installation in Europe, a fuel cell power station. It has a capacity of 1,4 megawatts and provides Friatec (a materials specialist) with virtually emission free electricity and heat.
The installation that was jointly installed by E.ON and FuelCell Energy Solutions uses natural gas, and through a non-combustion process creates hydrogen that is then used to generate electricity via a fuel cell. The process also generates heat that is used on-site within Friatec’s industrial processes.
The installation covers 60% of the sites energy needs with an efficiency of more than 80%. The plant has enabled the site to reduce its CO2 emissions by approximately 3000 tons per year. This is the equivalent to 250,000 family cars driving 100km! But it is not only CO2, the power plant emits no NOx, particulate matter or noise. Truly one way of responding to the energy needs of industry in an environmentally considerate way.
A word from Friatec…..
Mainz is one of the oldest cities in Europe but it is thoroughly up to date when it comes to the Hydrogen Society.
Mainz was the 3rd stop on the tour. This was the chance to visit a truly innovative project that had been initiated by Linde AG, Siemens AG, Hochschule RheinMain and the Mainzer Stadtwerke AG. The aim: to power vehicles (and more) with energy from the wind.
The process is called power to gas, and as with the installation in Hamburg, EnergiePark Mainz uses renewable electricity produced by the neighbouring wind turbines to produce hydrogen by electrolysis. It has an annual output of 200 tons as from 2017 onwards, enough to refuel a Mirai more than 40,000 times.
Hydrogen can be produced sustainably and stored onsite. It can then either be:
– transported to refuelling stations where it can be used to fuel hydrogen vehicles,
– injected into the gas grid to replace by up to 10% the natural gas used for heating or cooking for example. This one act can considerably reduce CO2 emissions with no need for a change in the existing infrastructure.
– or used for what we call grid balancing. This is where the hydrogen can be converted back into electricity, enabling us to use intermittent wind energy when we actually need it and avoid restarting a traditional power plant for example. Genius!
But don’t take our word for it, listen to the experts.
The beautiful city of Cologne renowned for its High Gothic architectural cathedral was the next stop on the journey.
It is also known for its important chemical industry. Who would have imagined that a by-product from this industry could power a vehicle.
This chemical industry uses a lot of energy and produces some considerable by-products that traditionally have not always been used in an efficient manner. One of these by-products is what interests us, hydrogen, a by-product of the industrial production of chlorine and enough of it to power 1000 buses per day.
The clever people within HyCologne, an organisation of 28 public and private partners, saw this by-product as an opportunity. It led to the construction of a hydrogen fuel station right next to a plant and the subsequent ramp up of a fleet of hydrogen powered buses for the Cologne region. One of the key benefits of this initiative is the reduction in local pollution of particulate matter associated with transport. They (the RVK – Regionalverkehr Köln (in German) – local transport company) currently have 2 Fuel Cell buses and wish to extend their fleet by 30 more, by 2019 and transform their entire fleet of 300 vehicles to hydrogen by 2030.
Toyota is also promoting hydrogen buses in Japan and expects to have over 100 in operation mainly in the Tokyo area in the run up to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Whether it’s individual or collective transportation, hydrogen has the answer.
Hamburg, famous for having the world’s largest model railway and the beginning of our road trip.
So you won’t buy a hydrogen car because there is nowhere to refuel. Wrong. Our journey starts in Hamburg and specifically at the HafenCity hydrogen station, installed by Vattenfall Energy Company.
The hydrogen station in HafenCity, now fuelled by H2Mobility (http://h2-mobility.de/en/) demonstrates the ultimate way in which to refuel a hydrogen car in a sustainable way. At least half of the hydrogen is produced on-site from the electrolysis of water (splitting it into its constituent parts Hydrogen and Oxygen) using electricity coming exclusively from renewable sources. This reduces the need to transport off-site produced hydrogen to the station.
The resulting liberated hydrogen is then stored on-site in pressurised tanks until needed to refuel the hydrogen cars and buses of Hamburg. It can currently provide up to 750kg of hydrogen per day (a typical fill up for a hydrogen car like our Mirai takes 5kg).
The site is currently used by up to 6 public buses and dozens of cars per day.
And here’s a word from the experts.
The Hydrogen Tour
The chicken or the egg. An age old dilemma. You know the story, you need experience to get a job but you need a job to get experience. How does anything new get off the ground when both sides of the argument need some sort of kick start?
The same could be said of the Hydrogen Society, and especially linked to transport. Many companies, and especially Toyota, are developing hydrogen powered vehicles but why would anyone want to buy a car that they cannot refuel anywhere due to the lack of fuelling stations?
To try and dispel the myths, we at Toyota Motor Europe set out on a Hydrogen Society Tour. A road trip with a difference.
We drove from Hamburg in the North of Germany, to Stuttgart in the glorious state of Baden-Württemberg in the South and back, racking up a total of 900km of emission-free driving.
And contrary to a typical road test, the invited media were not only there to test our car – the Mirai, (although it did serve as means of transport throughout the trip) but to see what is happening today with regards to hydrogen production and distribution. The aim being to demonstrate that hydrogen is neither the chicken nor the egg and that through close collaboration we can make the Hydrogen Society and the transition from our dependence on carbon, a reality.
Follow our journey through Germany over the next 5 posts, enjoy!
Mirai: 0 % emissions. 100% visionary.
Toyota has a proud history of disruptive and visionary thinking: pioneering the first ever mass-produced hybrid 1997, and going further by introducing the futuristic hydrogen-powered Mirai in 2014. Going strong since its launch, Mirai is fully electric though doesn’t need any recharging, using its unique fuel cell stack to generate electric power, with absolutely no emissions.
As more and more people embrace the Mirai vision, it is changing the way we drive, showing that hydrogen is not just a distant possibility anymore and the future is finally here.. We have met with some of the first Mirai owners to understand their vision on future of mobility and how the pioneering Mirai technology helps us move closer towards a hydrogen society.
Mirai has at its heart a unique and avant-guard technology, which caters to very different customer profiles: from those embracing the renewable energy cause, those working to building hydrogen infrastructures, those using the Mirai in their everyday life, to a mom raising the new generation of environmentalists.
Birgit Liodden is the very first private Mirai owner in Norway and a passionate environmentalist, who decided to become part of the solution to the pollution problem in Oslo by embracing the hydrogen technology and using Mirai as her everyday car.
Robert Döring is Head of Public Policy at Enertrag, one of the largest Europe-wide operating company in the field of renewable energy. The same way his company is one of the pioneers in its field, using Mirai as company car reflects the same spirit by its pioneering and innovative fuel cell technology at its core.
Ulrika Lindahl works as a project manager and development strategists at the municipality of Mariestad, a Swedish city that is largely investing in renewable infrastructure: 2 pre-school completely run by solar cells and hydrogen, as well as a solar park connected to an energy system with a fuel cell station.
Nicolas Iwan is the managing director of H2 Mobility, an initiative which aims to build hydrogen infrastructure in Germany. Driving a Mirai helps Nicolas to support his cause and prove that hydrogen works and is in fact the future of mobility.
Jakob Kroksgaard is one of the founders of H2 Logic, now part of NEL Hydrogen group which is active in building hydrogen refuelling stations. Driving a Mirai fits perfectly with Jakob’s professional occupation, and is also his choice for everyday driving as it’s a sustainable, comfortable and reliable car. In fact, Jakob has been driving his Mirai for over 77,000 kilometers, and counting.
Fuel cell cars.
The Toyota Mirai.
You may have heard about it – but how much do you know?
Do the test. Impress your friends in the pub with below 26 buzzwords. And become a true hydrogen genius.
*A*ll around us
Remember the periodic table from chemistry class? Hydrogen (H) is on the far left, top row. It is the most common atom to be found in the universe. You’ll find it in water, H20, for example. But as in water, H bonds to other chemical elements. That means we need ways to isolate it if we want to produce pure H2 hydrogen fuel.
Fuel cell vehicles have batteries. A nickel-metal hydride battery to be precise. The battery is very useful as it stores the energy that is released when you decelerate or brake. That energy is then used to boost the performance of your car every time you accelerate. At lower speeds, when parking for example, the car runs on the battery alone. It is the same principle that applies to all Toyota hybrid cars.
Hydrogen-powered cars are no oddities. They are available on the market today. In fact, sales of Toyota’s fuel cell car, called Mirai (Japanese for ‘Future’), started back in December 2014. The Toyota Mirai has an extremely advanced powertrain, using a new type of fuel. Still, the Mirai is a regular mid-size, four-door sedan that is every bit as practical, safe and easy to drive as a conventionally powered family car. In the end, you would almost forget you have to put hydrogen in it…
It’s comforting to know that in the event of a natural disaster that affects energy supply networks, a fuel cell car can come to the rescue. Especially in regions that are typically affected by natural disasters, like earthquake struck Japan. The car’s fuel cell stack can be used to supply energy to power home essentials for up to a week in an emergency. Think of it as having an electric generator enclosed in your garage when you have six feet of snow and 30° below outside …and zero emissions to worry about on the inside.
With all the current attention on electric vehicles, you could almost forget that the fuel cell car is an … electric vehicle. The wheels are driven by the electricity generated by the fuel cell stack. The only difference with a battery powered electric vehicle (BEV) is that the electricity is generated inside the vehicle instead of being taken from outside the vehicle. How? See F(uel cell stack).
*F*uel cell stack
The fuel cell stack is at the heart of the car. It’s where the magic happens. In goes the hydrogen and oxygen, out comes the electricity to power the wheels (with only water vapour at the tailpipe as an emission).
For the more scientifically inclined: A fuel cell converts the energy stored in the hydrogen to electricity by using an electrolyte, which separates the hydrogen’s protons and electrons to create a stream of electrons (electricity). The fuel cell’s electrochemical process creates water and heat as by-products rather than greenhouse gases.
Hungry for more information? Look at this video and see the magic happening before your eyes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSxPkyZOU7E
The environment wins when we create electricity from renewables such as solar, wind and hydropower instead of fossil fuels. We all know that. However, what needs to be very carefully monitored is the balance between demand and supply. Sunny days generate a lot of electricity at a time when there might not be an immediate demand for it. This causes peaks and imbalances in the electricity grid.
Hydrogen is a very promising energy carrier as it can store this electricity surplus that is not immediately used. This type of hydrogen produced from renewables is called green hydrogen. Ideally, we should move to 100% green hydrogen in the future.
*H* or H2?
Bear with us; this gets a bit more technical. Hydrogen (H) is the simplest and most common atom known to exist. But as H is an element that can’t exist by itself, it will always combine with another element in order to be stable. Water (H20) is such an example. So when we need H2 to fuel the car, we need to combine 2 hydrogen elements. Read P(roduction) to see how that happens.
*I*ntellectual property (patents)
In 2015, Toyota did something unprecedented. Rather than keeping our 20-year investment and built up know-how in-house, we announced that we would share ALL of our 5,680 Hydrogen-fuel-cell-related global patents with interested parties. Royalty-free.
Approximately 1,970 licenses are related to the fuel cell stack, about 290 to the high-pressure hydrogen tank and about 3,350 to the fuel cell system control technology.
Japan has the largest number of hydrogen stations in operation in one single country. The island currently has around 100 stations, with many more planned in the future. Why is Japan making large investments in a future hydrogen society? The country pays a high cost to import most of its energy and is eager to become more self-reliant. And the need to explore alternative energy sources has accelerated since the Fukushima incident.
Toyota Mirai’s fuel cell stack has a world-leading volume power density of 3.1kW/L. This figure is the result of dividing 113 kW (the energy that the fuel cell stack produces) by 36.5 litres (the volume of the stack). Is that any good? Well, it’s an indicator about the size of the fuel cell stack. We have managed to come up with a more compact, lighter fuel cell stack with improved performance. And one that can easily be mounted underneath the floor of a sedan, thanks to its reduced size.
Did you know hydrogen can be produced from practically anything – even bullsh*t? No kidding. Watch this YouTube movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pTluy9KpYU. The process of splitting water (H2O) into its atomic components, hydrogen and oxygen, is called ‘Electrolysis’ -> see P(roduction).
The Mirai is the name of Toyota’s fuel cell vehicle. It means ‘Future’ in Japanese. Fuel cell cars emit zero emissions when driving, so we believe that these cars are a promising technology (not only for cars) for the future. In order for these cars to become mainstream – just like Toyota’s hybrid vehicles – they have to be made affordable. Fuel cell system costs have decreased by 95%, compared to the Mirai’s predecessor; the 2008 FCHV-adv. Components are smaller, lighter, more efficient and cheaper to produce in volume. The system also shares many common parts with our hybrid models, including the electric motor. This saves cost and increases reliability.
*N*etwork in Europe
It is true that we are in the early stages of developing a network for making, distributing and selling hydrogen fuel. However, this network is growing every day. When the Mirai was launched in Europe in 2015, 40 refuelling stations were available in European countries. By 2020, there will be an estimated 200 stations and by 2025, this number will be closer to 1000. As well as securing a good number of sites, it is important that these are strategically located, serving major cities and the principal routes that link them.
Humans need oxygen, and so does our Mirai. The airborne oxygen is “breathed” in, combines with the hydrogen in the fuel cell stack, and produces the electricity needed to power the car.
The development of the fuel cell and this reaction is attributed to Sir William Robert Grove in 1842.
Hydrogen fuel can be obtained from many different sources that are in plentiful supply. In Europe, most hydrogen used for mobility is currently produced from steam methane reforming (which uses natural gas as the source material) or from electrolysis (that produces hydrogen out of water). It is already possible to use renewable sources, such as solar, wind or hydro power for the electrolysis process.
This is key to ensure the “well to wheel” carbon performance of hydrogen is excellent. For example, in Denmark, almost all hydrogen used for mobility, is produced from renewable sources. This ‘green’ type of hydrogen production is already present in Germany while other EU countries are expected to adopt it in the coming years.
*Q*DR (Quality, Durability and Reliability)
Toyota is famous for its quality. The same goes for the Mirai. The engineers have spared no effort and put the fuel cell car through a challenging 200,000km endurance test. 14 engineers drove the Mirai for 254 days, 16 hours/day on city streets, motorways and country roads. The car had to weather temperatures going from 37 to minus 20 degrees Celsius, with no report of start-up problems. Conclusion? There were no mechanical breakdowns. The car underwent normal maintenance and operated with 100% reliability. Only the brake discs were replaced once and brake pads three times.
*R*efuelling & *R*ange
Refuelling is similar to conventional cars. It takes between three and five minutes. It is clearly one of the benefits of choosing a fuel cell vehicle. Range: It will go as far as a similar size petrol car on a full tank of hydrogen.
We believe that there are great environmental and social benefits to be secured from building a future society based on using CO2-free hydrogen and renewable energy sources. This forms an important part of our long-term Environmental Challenge 2050 and our desire to create true harmony between society and nature.
Hydrogen is a clean, efficient means of producing electricity that is not vulnerable to fluctuations in supply. As well as creating no CO2 emissions when used, hydrogen fuel also has a higher energy density than batteries and is easy to transport and store. It can be used not only for powering vehicles (private cars, buses, trucks, taxis, forklifts, trains and even planes) but homes and factories as well.
Here is a fact: a single company can never be successful in building the future hydrogen society on its own. That is why Toyota joins cross-industry consortiums to promote actively the development and commercialization of the hydrogen and fuel cell sectors. Members are key stakeholders, such as policy makers, business and hydrogen players, international agencies and society as a whole.
The 13 founding members of the ‘Hydrogen Council’ are leading energy, transport and industry companies determined to position hydrogen among the key solutions of the energy transition.
b*U*s, tr*U*cks & other (heavy d*U*ty) units
Let us not mislead you into thinking that hydrogen is only being used as a fuel in passenger cars. In fact, more than 50 million tons of hydrogen are being used globally in industrial applications on a yearly basis. Thus, it is well established. Looking at the auto industry, Toyota is experimenting with trucks, buses and forklifts.
In Los Angeles we’re testing a fuel cell heavy-duty truck to move cargo around the port. Forklifts are another application that can fully rely on hydrogen: Toyota is testing a few units at a plant in Japan, and aims to deploy around 180 units by 2020. And more than hundred Toyota fuel cell buses will take you around the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
H2 is the lightest substance in the universe. Scientists call it ‘highly volatile’ (contrary to what many people think this doesn’t mean it is dangerous). In fact, the volatile characteristic of H2 makes it very safe. As it is lighter than air, hydrogen rises and dissipates very rapidly, up and away from any ignition source. Unlike traditional gases and their vapours, hydrogen does not collect under and around a vehicle in case of a leak due to a crash for example.
With regards to the hydrogen tank in the car, take a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVeagFmmwA0 What do you see? Exactly. We fired bullets at the tank in an attempt to try to pierce it on purpose, but nothing happened. Thanks to the carbon fibre reinforced plastic material used, the hydrogen tank’s structure remains intact. The gas merely escapes through the hole and quickly and harmlessly disperses into the atmosphere.
*W*orld Green Car of the Year 2016
We shouldn’t be patting ourselves on the back too much, but in all fairness we must admit that we feel honoured when others – especially media – recognize our efforts by declaring the Toyota Mirai ‘2016 World Green Car of the Year’. At the New York International Auto Show, a jury of 73 international automotive journalists from 23 countries chose the Toyota Mirai from an initial entry list of eight new vehicles from all over the world.
OK, let’s get back to work now. To produce even more ‘ever better cars’.
NOx is the generic term for ‘nitrogen oxides’, like nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). It’s one of the harmful emissions coming from the combustion of conventional fuels in a car engine. NOx contributes to the formation of smog and acid rain. Large cities around the world are implementing measures to ban emissions such as NOx from city centres to fight worsening air pollution.
If you’re driving a fuel cell vehicle, such as Toyota’s Mirai, you do not have to worry about being banned from city centre driving. The car does not emit NOx nor any other harmful emissions. You will only leave a trail of water vapour coming from the car’s tailpipe 😉
We are often asked why Toyota is investing in fuel cell cars rather than in electric cars? We don’t think one is better than the other. And we are investing in both. We feel battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) are complementary as they serve different mobility needs from the customer.
BEVs are better suited for short distances in an urban environment. Downtime is still an issue due to long charging times – even with a supercharger it takes 20 minutes or more. So is range anxiety. With FCEVs fuelling only takes 3 to 5 minutes and you can cover long distances, on a par with a conventional petrol car.
Could we end on a more positive note? Fuel cell electric vehicles are fully zero emission cars when driving.
(For the sake of completeness, you may want to know that water vapour is coming out of the tailpipe. Around 70ml/km if you really want to know. And yes, the water is so pure you could drink it – we wouldn’t recommend it though as the water has been running through the car’s pipes after all …However, some do…).
We are pretty excited to welcome the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on our stand at the Frankfurt Motorshow today.
Mrs Merkel has come today to the Messe‘s Hall 8 to take a look at the Toyota Mirai – the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen-powered car.
Mrs Merkel has been welcomed and given a broad explanation of the benefits of the advanced technology by Dr. Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe.
Having a doctorate degree in Physics, she was impressed by the potential use of hydrogen, which also can make an important contribution to the ecological mobility targets of the Federal government. Toyota Mirai will be available already as of middle October in Germany, one of the first European markets for the trailblazing technology.
No need to wait until seen on the roads – step by Hall 8 to see Toyota Mirai already today.
Putting the next 100 years in motion
The Frankfurt Motor Show marks the European commercial debut of the Toyota Mirai. With the first European customers taking delivery in the coming weeks in Germany, Denmark and the UK, this is the beginning of a new era.
Through its world-leading hybrid technology, Toyota has globally popularized eco-cars, beginning with the PRIUS, that has contributed to the global environment like no other car. Yet, the severity of issues such as global warming, environmental pollution and the exhaustion of oil and other fossil fuels is increasing.
If we want to secure the future of the automobile as flexible, personal transport for the next 100 years, we need to consider which energy can power our cars tomorrow. At Toyota, we believe that various technologies will co-exist, ranging from EVs over hybrids to perhaps the most innovative of all, the fuel cell car or FCV.
Instead of gasoline, FCVs are fueled by hydrogen, an environmentally friendly energy source that can be produced from a variety of raw materials including solar and wind power, biofuel, and natural gas.
Moreover, they run using the energy generated on board by a fuel cell stack. The energy efficiency of FCVs is higher than that of gasoline engines and they conserve energy, as well.
They are zero emission vehicles, emitting only water during driving. They are as easy to use as conventional vehicles and are capable of long trips thanks to their range and refuelling time, both comparable to those of a petrol car.
With the launch of the Toyota Mirai, we take one step closer towards a “sustainable mobility society”.
While walking around the Toyota booth, Hall 8, stand D19, stop by the blue bubble area and see The Future for yourself.