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Toyota's upgrades fuel cell vehicle efficiency

Posted: 12 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:assembly? vehicle? fuel cell?

Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) recently announced that it has developed a fuel cell hybrid vehicle equipped with the newly designed high-performance Toyota FC Stack.

During its development stage, TMC analyzed results and data from various utilization studies by the Japan Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Demonstration Project organized by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The tests were conducted by the California Fuel Cell Partnership in the United States and cold-weather tests in Timmins, Canada. TMC carried out basic research to get to the core of technical problems as they came. Based on the results, the Toyota FCHV-adv's fuel cell system was enhanced to further improve cruising distance and low-temperature startups, which had presented obstacles to widespread fuel cell vehicle use.

The building block of the fuel cell vehicle is the membrane electrode assembly (MEA), where engineers focused on the basic problems of internally produced water interfering with electrical generation within the MEA at low temperatures. Fundamental research, such as internal visualization tests, was carried out to understand the behavior and amount of water generated in the fuel cell, which allows engineers to optimize the design in improving low-temperature startup. As a result, the Toyota FCHV-adv can start and operate in cold regions at temperatures as low as -30C. This means the vehicle can be used in a variety of conditions and climates.

In addition, fuel efficiency was improved by 25 percent through better fuel cell unit performance, enhancing the regenerative brake system and reducing energy consumed by the auxiliary system.

Further changes include incorporating degradation control for the electrode catalyst and enhancing fuel cell durability. Also, equipping the vehicle with TMC-developed 70Mpa high-pressure hydrogen tanks makes it possible to travel approximately 830km2 on a single fuelingperformance that doubles the capacity of the Toyota FCHV-adv's predecessor, the Toyota FCHV.

While steadily conducting research and development to resolve issues on making the durability longer and reducing costs of the vehicle, TMC is working with government, energy companies and other concerned parties to bring about widespread of fuel cell vehicle use actively.

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