Toyota’s Cartridge Helps Make Hydrogen Portable

Hydrogen has long been touted as the solution to cleaning up road transport. When used in fuel cells, the only emissions from its use are water, and it eliminates the slow recharging problem of battery-electric vehicles. It’s also been put forth as a replacement for everything from natural gas supplies to laptop batteries.

Toyota has been pushing hard for hydrogen technology, and has worked to develop vehicles and infrastructure to this end. The company’s latest efforts involve a toteable hydrogen cartridge – letting you take hydrogen power on the go!

Solving Storage and Shipment Issues

The portable hydrogen canisters weigh just 5kg. Credit: Toyota

For all its benefits, hydrogen is a bit of a tricky thing to deal with. Molecules of H2 are so small that they tend to leak out of most containers, finding a way to slip between other molecules. This can cause problems, such as leaks, or hydrogen embrittlement in metal components. Thus materials must be selected carefully to store hydrogen safely. It’s commonly stored as a compressed gas or liquid, or within solids in special metallic forms.

The dimensions of Toyota’s attractive round canisters are quite compact- 400 mm long and 180 mm in diameter.  Footnotes from Toyota indicate they rely on a “high-pressure hydrogen tank,” suggesting storage in gaseous form. The target weight for the canisters is 5 kg. Thus, the canisters can readily be manipulated and carried by a single person, serving as a lightweight store of energy. They come in much lighter than a typical tank of propane (~30 kg) or a full jerry can of gasoline (~25 kg).

Toyota discusses the canister’s power output with a curious metric. One cartridge should generate “enough electricity to operate a typical household microwave for approximately 3-4 hours.” Given microwaves are typically operated in minutes at a time, one suspects the TV dinners at Toyota HQ may be more than a little frazzled. Regardless, the press release notes that this is derived from a typical capacity of 3.3 kWh when the canister is used with a “typical FC [fuel cell] system.”

While it’s not a lot of power, the total capacity works out to roughly 660 Wh/kg. Even given the fancy plastic casing, it’s still better than lithium-ion batteries, which come in around 260 Wh/kg at best.

Toyota demonstrated a twist-and-lock insertion method for the hydrogen canisters which feels very futuristic indeed.
Even better is if the machine sucks them in automatically like those magic Macintosh disk drives of the 1980s. Credit: Toyota, Woven City

At such a low total capacity, it’s hard to envisage these canisters being used for transport applications. Most electric cars have batteries exceeding 70 kWh in capacity; it would take over 18 such canisters to provide the same amount of power. 3.3 kWh might run your electric scooter for a decent long ride, but you’d need to have a fuel cell and a 5 kg canister hanging off it, somehow.

Instead, it appears Toyota sees the canisters as a way to deliver clean electrical power in a more weight-efficient format than using batteries. The canisters will be tested in Toyota’s Woven City, a future-looking “smart city” in Japan that hopes to trial new technologies. There, they will be used to run a “broad range of daily life applications in and outside of the home.” Potential applications could be running hot plates at an outdoor picnic, or providing lighting for a campground without the noise of a combustion-engine generator.

The cartridges take a difficult and fussy fuel and put it into a no-mess, no-fuss format. Credit: Toyota

The general idea is that the canisters are an easy way to deliver hydrogen energy in a portable format. Unlike liquid fuels, hydrogen can’t easily be poured from one tank to another. Instead, charging up a bunch of canisters makes it easy to move hydrogen around to where it’s needed.

Toyota has big hopes for hydrogen as a fuel of the future. It’s invested big in hydrogen cars, and still lags behind its competitors when it comes to battery-electric vehicles. With these hydrogen canisters, Toyota “envisions hydrogen evolving into a familiar, broadly-used form of energy.”

It’s hard to see Toyota’s vision from the present day. EVs are getting better than ever, and hydrogen production typically involves more fossil fuels than you might expect. However, the technology is developing rapidly, from Toyota’s portable canisters to hydrogen pastes and advanced aluminium fuel pucks. Whether any of these can stop a broader push towards pure electrification remains to be seen.

 

134 thoughts on “Toyota’s Cartridge Helps Make Hydrogen Portable

      1. The alternative of leaving it up to each individual company with personal financial interests at the top of their lists doesn’t seem better. It’ll be yet another pointless format war all over again unless some body can attempt some sort of standardization.

    1. The last time they did that on a large scale a lot of people got harmed, some of them fatally, and it was ultimately a complete failure as the mandated technology was not really a good fit for the nature of the problem they were trying to solve.

    2. A 5 kg canister of propane is worth 65 kWh or practically speaking around 33 kWh of electricity instead of 3.3 kWh with hydrogen – and there are fuel cells that will happily burn propane and other fuel gases.

      You can fit ten times more energy in the same container with synthetic hydrocarbons, so what’s the point of this? Hydrogen is not the future, never has been, and standardizing on it is a pointless effort.

      1. I think the theory here is that if cheap, clean power generation is solved the problem remaining will be transport. Hydrogen is safe-ish and easy to make if power isn’t a concern, and converting it back to electricity doesn’t create any harmful byproducts.

        1. Even for transport, it’s so much cheaper and easier to pull off if the hydrogen was converted into a hydrocarbon (methane, butane, propane… butanol, propanol, ethanol…).

          And a fuel cell operating on a hydrocarbon makes just CO2 and water.

    3. No need to such canister. Hydrogen can be produced from drinking water. Such technology is already tested. Meaning, so long as there is water, you dont worry about hydrogen fuel.

      To Toyota: All you can do at best, is to improve this Filipino Invention. And commercialized it. You can still make business out of it, by manufacturing spareparts for such hydrogen producing machine. And also, to redesign the internal combustion engine to adopt to hydrogen fuel gas.
      Note: One of the problem of injecting pure hydrogen gas to conventional Internal combustion engine is that, it will not last longer due to very high combustion energy( 3 times than gasoline).

      1. I think it was the voice and the “every thing we do is to provide a better future for our children” that together gave a “last act before everything goes wrong in a horror game/movie” feeling.

          1. Hmmm…

            I’m trying to figure out what non-recycled food is.

            All your food has been plant, animal and poop at some point in time. It might have even been people!

    1. All the green tech stuff does. None of these people are actually invested in stopping pollution. They’re just trying to cynically profit off it. And push a bunch of other hyper-industrialized products which will make the problem worse in the long run. It’s the same people who started all this after all. I really wish people would stop being so gullible. I mean hydrogen cells? We’re really still re-hashing this blatant scam?

      1. Clean Technica agrees with you.

        The hydrogen is getting investment from fossil fuel companies who have – oh, imagine that – 95% of the hydrogen market as most hydrogen is derived from … you guessed it. Coal and dirty, Anerican-fracked methane that some European companies refuse to use. Not to mention the infrastructure needed to move it would require far more heft than a methane pipeline. This is greenwashing, plain and simple.

        But don’t take my word for it. This article savages it quite nicely.
        https://cleantechnica.com/2021/02/24/hydrogen-is-big-oils-last-grand-scam/

        1. I can’t believe how many people commenting here seem to think Hydrogen is even a viable option. I’m not saying that EV’s are perfect but when you have to reconfigure immense amounts of infrastructure just to deliver a ‘fuel’ which is both unsafe and difficult (ie Greenhouse Gases) to produce it just makes zero sense. Like all clean energy is produced as electricity. Why waste efficiency by switching that power into another source as Hydrogen? And then the fuel cell again switches the power back to electricity? Even using ‘green’ Hydrogen each time you convert your power from one form to another you are losing energy as conversions are at most 60-70% in each direction.

          So if you want to waste over 50% of your electricity by needlessly converting to Hydrogen and then again back to electricity in the form of a ‘fuel cell’ to move your car of the future. I can only provide you with a slow clap and a sticker that says ‘I bought the lie big oil sold me’.

  1. An interesting post, thanks for putting this here.
    But the following sentence made me smile big time “EVs are getting better than ever”, how about stating the obvious…
    As technology progresses, things hardly get any worse, do they?
    Although I’m pretty sure some examples will follow… new comment regarding failed technological progress in 3,2,1…

    1. things *definitely* can get worse as technology in a space advances.

      * social media
      * user experience in computing, generally
      * private automobile adoption

      The naive counterargument here to be made is that these aren’t “technology problems but people problems” and while it’s true that people represent the driving factors for why these things have become objectively worse than at certain points in their past, that argument cal also be made for why things have gotten *better* – it’s an orthogonal concern. There is no such thing as technology that does not involve people.

        1. That’s the first strike against H2 transportation (see all the green washing of “blue” H2). The second is the significantly lower efficiency compared against BEVs, due to production, storage and transport costs.

          1. That, and the fact that blue hydrogen doesn’t feasibly exist yet.

            Also – didn’t a Nikola executive get shamed into resigning (the rich man’s “being fired”) for lying about how good their hydrogen tech was?

        2. Green electrolysis H2 only makes sense if renewable electricity is dirt cheap, and storage becomes the big problem

          But biofuel-based H2 makes sense already – a field of crops is much cheaper per KW than a field of solar panels, and converting plants to H2 to electricity can be efficient, for applications where batteries struggle. And if you bury the carbon you get from converting plants to H2, it does atmospheric CCS too!

          1. “But biofuel-based H2 makes sense already – a field of crops is much cheaper per KW than a field of solar panels, and converting plants to H2 to electricity can be efficient,”

            That surprises me, can you provide a source?
            THX! :)

          2. @Andrew This is the thing nobody seems to GET!!

            Even with the grid baseload being fueled by coal, using that electricity to charge EVs is still orders of magnitude MORE EFFICIENT than Internal Combustion Engines. Coal power stations are optimised to extract as much energy as possible from the fuel, and the electric motor(s) in EVs are so much more efficient than burning petrolium products in an engine.

            The efficiencies of Coal/Electric vs the inefficiency of internal combistion are still a NET POSITIVE in terms of Air Pollution and CO2 Production.

          3. @ H4uke: I googled ‘plants to H2’ and results were there. From the first one: ‘ It is not currently efficient enough to make it commercially”. It seems there is a path and some teams are working on it.

          4. >a field of crops is much cheaper per KW than a field of solar panels

            Take corn ethanol for a comparison: the energy return is just 1.27 times the input from fertilizers, farming and processing the materials. Hydrogen would be even worse with all the conversion losses from biomass to energy to splitting water. Solar panels on the other hand have a good EROEI around 15 times the energy input.

            Farming is only “cheap” because the input energy (from fossil fuels) is cheap. In essence, biofuels convert cheap fossil energy into expensive “green” energy. Plus there’s the fact that we’re already using about 40% of the earth’s arable surfaces for farming and that’s becoming a huge environmental issue.

          5. > using that electricity to charge EVs is still orders of magnitude MORE EFFICIENT

            Not on a system level. EV batteries are not efficient for storing energy in the long term because of the huge amounts of materials that go into them. They would be efficient if optimally used, but a large battery in a car does not go through enough charge cycles before its calendar age end of life.

            To manufacture a battery takes around 200-400 charge cycles worth of energy. A 300 mile battery driven for 200,000 miles uses up 700 cycles, so the cost to make the battery adds another 40% or so to the total energy expenditure, which represents an efficiency loss of -30%.

            Add that to all the other losses, and the system efficiency from the power plant to the wheels including the battery cost is around 50% which is not actually different from fuel cells. If you count the power plant efficiency as well – assuming coal or gas power – it actually starts to look exactly identical to the efficiency of a traditional ICE, and not even a good one.

          6. Of course you can find examples of people driving a million miles on a battery, but the regular consumer will do about 15k a year and 150-200k max by the time the battery is ready to scrap.

          7. If car batteries literally went to the tip after their “useful life” I’d accept 30% loss

            But they don’t, they’ll get recycled as stationary batteries that don’t need the energy density a car needs.

          8. @Andrew

            I’m not saying the numbers are good but it’s been some years since I last checked and they are looking a LOT better than they used to.

            https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

            If you are ok with nuclear (I am) then the combination of renewables and nuclear are beyond 1/3 and well on their way to 1/2 of power production.

            Coal is still big but we are well past the point where it is accurate to say our power comes from coal and cleaner sources are insignificant.

          9. >If car batteries literally went to the tip after their “useful life” I’d accept 30% loss

            Recycling them is just as costly as mining the materials in the present.

          10. > they’ll get recycled as stationary batteries

            No such thing will happen to batteries at their calendar EOL because they’re already damaged to the point of being unusable and potentially unsafe. The capacity fade accelerates rapidly past a certain point.

        3. A local hydroelectric utility is building a pretty substantial Hydrogen Plant nearby.

          They initially plan to use the electrolyzers for shaping load, reducing the number of starts and stops on the generator units and wear and tear on the associated equipment.

          Eventually (I believe) they plan to use Hydrogen generation to monetize “spinning reserve”, generation capacity that is required to be online (generally 6% of load) yet unused in case of grid disturbances. They can use this power in this scenario because it is load that can be quickly shed and used for more pressing needs on the grid if needed.

          It may also come in handy during periods of negative wholesale power prices. (I bet you can’t guess which part of the US this might be.)

          Is that enough to supply Hydrogen to millions of cars? No, but it’s a decent step in that direction.

          1. Hydrogen and synthetic hydrocarbon production enables putting up renewable generators in inaccessible places where there’s no sense in pulling power lines to the rest of the grid. You can put them on deserts and mountaintops and truck the fuel out instead. Porsche is already doing this in Peru.

          2. Dude: power lines are much more efficient that trucks.

            They do have large upfront costs, but so do roads to nowhere.

            If one of VWs marketing fronts is up to something I’m immediately suspicious of greenwashing. I guess it’s not Audi so slightly less ‘generic motors’.
            They aren’t putting in permanent infrastructure because it’s for a commercial and will be forgotten and abandoned shortly. Good thing, if VW built it, endless money pit.

          3. Dude: How many hours of blackout per week are there in rural Chile? Do you really think they’ve got energy to export?

            Energy is fungible.

            Your not getting a tanker full of fuel from some boutique CO2 neutral marketing/greenwashing scheme. No matter how you slice it.

            Especially one built by VW. Bet every maintenance procedure begins with ‘remove plant foundation’.

    2. Product lifespan gets worse
      Customer service gets worse
      Boot times get worse
      Time required for bug fixes gets worse
      Learning curves get worse
      Maintenance fees get worse

      But you are correct, computers are generally considered to be “labor saving devices” despite evidence to the contrary.

      1. Learning curves and Product lifespan ? I can’t agree on that. UIs are simpler than ever, and while phones have a really bad product lifespan, desktop computers are still reliable and don’t suffer from random failures due to archaic technology.

        It’s still hard to compare the lifespan of today’s computers that haven’t proved their lifespan for now, to computers that have far exceeded their real usage lifespan, and also, survivor bias.

        The customer service is worse, but now that online support forums and automated repairing software exists, I would say it hasn’t really changed, but repairability is definitively worse.

      2. This x1000. It takes time to develop new technologies. It just takes patience to investigate efficiencies.
        Then along comes some numpty who believes that we should put it all into the “cloud” to let some datacentre churn and burn. Humans really are clever *and* dumb at the same time.

    3. “As technology progresses, things hardly get any worse, do they?”
      —A person blissfully unaware that we have invented about half a dozen totally unique ways to destroy the world in the last two centuries and we have nearly destroyed our biosphere.
      No. Any objective assay of our outcomes with industrial technology would show that we are far too destructive and irresponsible with it. We lasted 300,000 years without it, yet after the industrial revolution we’re killing ourselves in a geological blink of an eye. Also we work longer hours and are less healthy than medieval serfs.

  2. Comparisons are a bit spurious, I think you need about a quart/liter of gasoline to get 3.3kWh out of a small gasoline generator. Then propane comes in 1lb, 5lb, 20lb, 30lb, 60lb… sized canisters, so you pick the size you need. I think the 5lb canister would be about equivalent here.

    Not very well explained by the author here is whether it weighs 5kg full of hydrogen or whether 5kg is the tare weight.

  3. So, Toyota as finally managed to replicate the nonsense of coffee pads and ink cartridges for fuel: Proprietary, non-reusable, and a lot of completely unnecessary waste. Exactly what this planet needs now.

    1. Ah !! Somebody sees through the placating of the masses… now if we can stop those pesky kids from cutting off the profit stream !! Remember, Tesla wanted to GIVE electricity away…this half-assed battery is another “road to NOT a solution, just moar profit…”

  4. The W/Kg numbers ignore the fact that the hydrogen system needs a fuel cell to convert it to electricity. Small systems are about the worst place for hydrogen. It may make sense for bulk transport (shipping or haulage) but batteries are cheaper to run and more efficient (by a long way) for light use.

      1. It is tough at this point to imagine anything about the MBTA that doesn’t involve a fire or collapsing infrastructure. They have way too much work on their hands just from the federal transportation inspectors. They have to hire and train hundreds of new people and spend millions on basic safety issues. Their plate is far too full for anything new for a long time.

      2. I work with electric buses, with 75% of our buses (83) haven been electric since start of 2020. Technology is rapidly increasing. There are now (18m, articulated) buses with 320kWh battery and charge rates of 520kWh.
        Usage is just over 1kWh/km for “standard” and about 1.4 for bendy buses.
        In my area, we have a lot of peak hour traffic, recharging is done between peak houts so we need as many buses as we would need in a full diesel scenario.
        I know other areas where there is hardly any peak hour usage, and they need e.g. 3 “charge buses” for a pack of 47 buses.
        The TCO of electric buses used to be about equal to diesel (which has lower investment costs, but higher fuel and shorter lifespan) but I heard rumours it has now very much tipped in favour of electric with the high fuel prices.

        My company alone runs 500 e-buses, after 2025 no new diesel buses are allowed in public transport.

        1. There are some busses in my town. 90% of the time the only riders are homeless people who live on the busses because of the air conditioning/heating. If you regularly use the busses, it’s nearly 100% certain you will get COVID-19, even if you are double vaxed, double boosted, and double masked. Crime is unchecked in the city these days. What a mess. I don’t see how shifting to “green” energy will fix these serious public transport problems – at all.

          1. If you exist in the real world and actually interact with anybody or any space that has people though it you will 100% certainly catch covid (and everything else remotely transmissible and common in the general population), eventually. Though if you are as you suggest vaccinated odds are good you won’t even notice, just perhaps feel a touch under the weather for a day or two.

            So that is hardly an argument against public transport. As life has to be lived not hidden from.

            As for your other gripes, well that says the area you live is kinda shitty and likely full of poorer folks. You don’t get serious crime problems or such a large homeless population if the place is nice, full of the kind and helpful people/charities and there are jobs that pay enough to live etc. So making the bus nicer and cheaper to operate (and hopefully use) can perhaps help, but I’d agree if the place is a shitty as you are suggesting its not going to magically fix everything on its own… But it has still improved the air quality, noise pollution, and such so it is far from pointless even then…

          2. That is sad. Here (the Netherlands), buses are a valuable and impprtant part of the transport modes available. Not in each location (some are very car-dependent and have no bus service or an 8person minibus per hour only on weekdats) but in some locations we have fast interborough buses running every 4 minutes in peak (and at least 8/hour during the entire day, 6am to midnight, and each hour at night)

        1. But carrying a battery round has an efficiency loss – BEVs often weigh twice as much as similar size petrol cars, so while source-to-wheel efficiency is better, wheel-to-passenger efficiency for BEVs is bad. Small battery and fuel cell with a 40% weight and area reduction compared to a BEV with similar range has the same total energy use, but more convenient because ‘charging’ takes seconds

          1. Sorry , what are you talking about? wheel-to-passenger-what? even if EVs weights twice than ICEs (more like 30% heavier not 100% but let’s continue) it is calculated that well-to-wheels (the correct term) , for moving the same distance, the heavier BEVs , use way way less energy than ICEs , please could you elaborate how ,let’s say a Tesla model 3 , is less “wheel-to-passenger” efficient than a BMW 3 series ? .
            The example you make about a FCEV doesn’t make any sense, unlike the fabled tales told by the hydrogen lobby, FCEVs are hardly lighter than a modern EVs, the latest fcev, the toyota mirai is just around 100kg less than a similar ranged model S that has an additional motor, a big and heavy glass roof and its way bigger inside. To fill the mirai 5.4kg tanks (enough for the EPA 400miles or 350 if you spec it with the big wheels) it takes around 320kwh of energy , the Model S for the same range it’s 99kwh battery pack takes , considering the transmission losses and impedance losses (from fast charging) around 120kwh of energy .
            I really don’t know how and where you can get a FCEV with an extended battery that has 40% weight and area reduction that a BEV with similar range and same total energy use because it simply cannot exist today and near future technology , look at the riversimple , a small ultra efficient 2 seater …thing…. takes 1.6kg of hydrogen and has a range of 300miles, to make, compress and refill 1.6kg of hydrogen it takes around 95kWh of energy, that’s roughly the amount of energy to fast charge a model 3 that is a car, with 5 seats and 350miles of range.

          2. Spot checking that weight claim, a Hyundai Ioniq 5 77kwh 2wd weighs ~1930kg while a Ford Kuga with a 1.5 litre engine and no hybrid system weighs ~1560kg. Another comparison would be the Mercedes EQS at 2450kg while the S class starts at 2020kg.

            There’s definitely a weight penalty but 20-25% seems fairer than 50% unless you’ve got specific counter examples?

          3. We could also look at the fact an ICE turns 100% of any braking action into heat, whereas an EV (or hybrid) recovers most of that energy for later reuse.
            A significant portion of the energy used to move a vehicle around is the aerodynamic drag. Once a mass is moving, in theory it needs no more energy to keep it moving – in reality there are increased frictional losses from bearings being more loaded, tyres flexing more, etc.
            Not having run any calculations, but I would say the average energy consumption of a heavier EV with regenerative braking is far better than a lighter ICE of similar performance/size specifications.

        2. But the battery have self discharge, limited lifespans in both charge cycles and age, need more ‘rare’ minerals and can’t be refilled as quickly as hydrogen can.

          So while a BEV is good, and clearly better for some use cases it won’t be best for everything. The clear winner if you have a home solar farm, as the scale of your house and home generally means you will still have a grid tie up. From which you will get paid bugger all for the energy you export, so will want to make use of locally for your wallet alone. Which means having a giant EV Battery there to soak up more of your self generated power is a winner there, and much more efficent overall than shipping it off to the grid. I suppose you could try a home H2 generation system, but clearly that is much more challenging…

          The whole system has to be consider – its not only about direct efficiency of charging the EV vs making that much hydrogen. As what happens when every connected EV and house battery is full and the sun and wind are still going crazy feeding you lots more energy? You can’t easily build more battery, as they have finite lifespans so the fabrication capacity is going to get saturated keeping up with the replacements in an entirely battery system. They will also self discharge and loose that energy slowly over time, and tend to die faster when kept at high state of charge so are not superb for longer term storage.

          Where giant tanks of H2 (at least in theory) can have no self discharge and/or can be made of simpler materials so you can still get some use out of all that excess electric gathering potential that would otherwise be wasted right now and use it later. Perhaps distributed in these neat looking little cells.

          NB this is all very oversimplified as there are such a huge range of battery techs etc available. Just pointing out that if you can store it it almost doesn’t matter how inefficient electrolysis H2 generation is – as there is a niche for it to be useful.

          1. By “limited lifespans” you mean “longer than the design life of the vehicle”? That’s what early Model S BEVs are proving (more than 300,000 miles on the original battery) and that’s with traditional Lithium Ion cells. Lithium Iron Phosphate cells are a little lower in energy density but have 5 times the cycle life.
            Hydrogen has its own self discharge problem, more so in that escaped gas can become explosive in a confined environment like a garage. It is quicker to refuel, but needs to visit a filling station more often than a BEV, which can recharge most of the time overnight from domestic power (there are even public charge points springing up on the side of the street for people that lack a driveway). The big kicker for hydrogen is the cost of creating it (you can’t find hydrogen gas in any quantity in a naturally occurring earth environment, it needs to be split out of a compound like water or natural gas). You’re looking at around 3 times the electricity needed to fill a BEV to create the hydrogen to fill a FCEV, and that’s going to need its own battery pack anyway as fuel cells are poor at responding to rapid changes in demand.

          2. By limited I mean limited – as in its a component that will become less useful and then fail for certain, in a relatively short time. I’ve got nothing against BEV, think they are great (as you can find argued mostly with @Dude in the comments on many articles on HAD). But it is a fact the batteries degrade and maybe its ‘longer than the design life’ but that isn’t a good thing, as that says the design life is stupidly, wastefully short – when the rest of the vehicle would still be good for another batteries lifespan if not more…

            And while I’m sure battery replacement will eventually become a very available and likely much cheaper than it is now, you are in for a rough time of it trying to keep you older BEV going in the shorter term – its not like the ICE car where a little care and tiny, easy to make or source cheap spare parts and some care can keep it running about as well as new for decades! Ultimately though the issue with Battery is you can only ever sustain a certain population of them – they have short lifespans and consume pretty significant material volumes, enough of which are relatively rare so the ability to build more to meet larger needs can’t go on indenfineatly, as you keep having to make new ones to replace the old.

            Hydrogen certainly has its downsides, and engineering challenges still to solve but they are not sufficiently bad even now, or so beyond fixable in theory that it doesn’t make sense to work on the tech. And a large part of why its worth it even if you need 10000000x the electric sourced to get the same output is that you can keep Hydrogen contained pretty well for longer term stores, and in pretty cheap and long lasting containment vessel (as even with hydrogen embrittlement etc if you don’t build too close to the ragged edge of minimum required specs that tank is good basically forever).

            Which as grids go greener is exactly what you need – something you can turn up the consumption of to make some use of the oversupply at the peaks, and there has to be more oversupply from the base line grid need. As to be able to provide enough to meet that baseline reliably means even in a local dip in weather greener energy output you have to be at least close to it. That gives you stupidly huge amounts of oversupply at the peaks, far better to get some use out of it, in a cheap and durable way, even if its only a millionth as efficient than just throw it away.

            Its not about the most direct comparison in a single usecase but the system as a whole, and hydrogen is very very plausible as a good complimentary part of the system we need to live ‘modern’ lifestyles without destroying the blue green marble we call home. Maybe some new battery or capacitor tech comes out, maybe some other fuel cell tech really proves its better as time goes on but as it stands hydrogen makes enough sense right now to be worth working on.

      1. The production of hydrogen from clean/renewable sources will not take off as long as it’s far cheaper to produce it from oil. Corp execs are obligated to do whatever benefits their shareholders the most, which generally prioritizes profit above environmental responsibility. This is why I believe hydrogen production from oil needs to stop. Besides, we need to save the oil for making plastic and other chemicals.

  5. I’m not sure why you commentatenators are so down on the idea of using hydrogen. Come on guys, get a grip. Ok they shot themselves in the feet with the smarmy video, but look beyond all this stuff, if you will. What we need are OPTIONS + What we need is to EXPLORE those options. Hydrogen may well fail as a solution, but the bold among us are happy to fail as long as we tried.

    1. The main reason is because the option has been pretty thoroughly explored and it is not very good.

      Toyota has been developing fuel cell technology for vehicles since 1992 (30 years ago) and had their first prototype in 1996.

      The problems they faced then are pretty much the same as the ones they face now.

      1. Hydrogen is a pain to transport.
      2. Hydrogen is expensive to generate without making CO2 pollution.
      3. Hydrogen fuel cells rely on expensive catalysts.

      1. Doesn’t have to be a fuel cell to use Hydrogen though, and ICE power systems are reliant on expensive cat converters to be legal and safer to be around, and the high power battery and electronics need expensive rare mineral content too!

        Hydrogen might be currently a bigger pain to transport than petrol etc, but its not all that different really. And not even 100 years ago you desperately wanted a real captured ‘jerrycan’ because it was made by the Germans and was so much safer, leaked so much less than the stuff the rest of the world had been using to ship fuel around… So transporting petrol wasn’t exactly trivial in the not too distant past, and really still isn’t with how complex the logistics train taking it from refinery to eventually your car is. We have just solved that problem well enough almost nobody notices it till some global crisis puts the price at the pump up.

        Generation of Hydrogen doesn’t have to be expensive without fossil fuel sources, there is a potential world out there where so much solar, tidal and wind power exists that a substantial oversupply over the base needs of the grid happens frequently – at which point the excess power is effectively free or even perhaps negative cost, folks have been paid to charge their EV etc before…

        Or in short, where the world is right now is hopefully not where we will stop and such simple dismissals of ideas mean we would almost ALL still be working the fields with Oxen, if we ever learned to farm at all. As for instance the first steam engines are hugely inefficient, giant, expensive monsters of machines, and built before the Coal transporting infrastructure could really exist. 1712 for the Newcommon beam engine, 1804 for Trevithicks first ‘successful’ steam locomotive, 1829 before the Rainhill trials and the Rocket becomes the blueprint for more practical high performance steam locomotives… 30 years of working on Hydrogen is nothing, even less than nothing when you consider how low a priority such investment has been over these decades compared to the huge investments in steam powers early days.

        1. Yes to some extent, but during that time they also had to invent the physics behind it, laws of thermodynamics etc, which allowed easier analysis and efficiency gains

          We now have all the laws of physics we need for this stuff, so it should come quicker.

          1. We really don’t as far as I can tell have any real understanding of the physics/chemistry at a more fundamental level to really refine fuel cells just in theory and have it pan out exactly as expected, yet.

            Not that you are entirely wrong, but its a pretty narrow view to go ‘all our past physics is enough for these newer projects’, and thus assume there is nothing left to learn here. Till you actually fall down that rabbit hole you really are only guessing at what you will find, it might be a rather more informed guess than possible in 1804, or 1920 but there is still I have no doubt plenty of scope for surprises. Take for instance how long it took to create RGB LED as we were short a primary colour untill very very recently…

            Maybe you can claim that when we do finally crack quantum physics (or whatever replaces it)…

          2. They learned as they went, as we will with hydrogen and the rest of those pesky laws. Development wouldnt be so expensive if things just worked like we figured. Trial and error still reigns king!

      2. There’s also the efficiency part of the equation. Battery-electric systems in a car are about 85-90% efficient, while hydrogen fuel cells in cars are about 50% efficient, and the hydrolysis used to generate the hydrogen is another efficiency loss. Burning the hydrogen in a combustion engine would probably be closer to 33% efficient. That 3.3kWh tank would be lucky to move a vehicle 5-7 miles vs. 15 for the same amount of electricity in a regular EV already on the road today.

        1. “Burning the hydrogen in a combustion engine would probably be closer to 33% efficient.”

          When BMW first tried to power one of their engines with H2, they had to put dual superchargers on it to get it to be useable.

    1. Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHC) is a good concept and needs engineering to go from concept to working systems. Look at organometallic chemistry, pincer catalysts, as discovered at the Weitzman Institute in Rehovath, Israel.

      Refuelling of fuel cell vehicles by hydrogen from the LOHC process
      by Alexander Seidel

      Hydrogen plays a major role in achieving the energy revolution and a zero-emission policy especially in the mobility
      sector. The LOHC (liquid organic hydrogen carrier) concept is a capable technology for supplying hydrogen refuelling stations due to its high hydrogen storage densities (57 kgH2 mLOHC-3) and easy handling (liquid, low toxicity, low flam-mability). ISO and SAE standards strictly regulate hydrogen qualities. The suitability of hydrogen from the LOHC pro-cess for fuel cells, was proven by Hydrogenious Technologies in intensive field-tests with a fuel cell system in applica-tion as well as analytically with the H2-Quality module

      Here is a link to the paper:
      https://apis.mail.yahoo.com/ws/v3/mailboxes/@.id==VjN-ivM7zPzWuHlsuFcAxhUcZ5G4fAF2nQMqGiNJ2j1Q8n8nx-TSJ0QvqnvJaNceqCgJOstHGQ2SvOzuBlPC52QM-g/messages/@.id==AF1xB4Y8iwKhYul9BwMsgOq6-Xc/content/parts/@.id==2/refresh?appid=YMailNorrinLaunch&ymreqid=25512140-eb0a-6fcf-1cb2-d20000018400

    2. Goes for all that sweet sweet ‘climate cooling/warming/changing’ research and subsidy money :) . When you have a cash cow … milk it for all it is worth …as we see today.

      Hydrogen is ‘an’ energy source. No doubt. Powers rockets into space, etc… But until it can compete (money-wise and volume wise) with conventional fuels, it will stay in academics…. Unless, like wind and solar, you have government subsidies and mandates forcing the issue. Which of course just raises the cost for all of us.

      1. The point of government mandates in this case is not to raise costs. The costs are there no matter what you do. The problem is getting costs assigned to the right party for a market that maximizes benefit in the bigger picture.

        You say oil is cheaper to use. Is it really? When you account for the costs of dumping pollutants and co2 and methane is it still cheaper? It’s cheaper to the person burning it. But he’s shifting the costs of dumping pollutants to everyone else.

        Once incentives and disincentives are aligned with the public good then consumers will make decisions for the public good.

      2. “Which of course just raises the cost for all of us.” The objective is to make things so expensive an unaffordable to those of us not in the “big club” in order to try to force us to crawl to “Potter” to be saved, to make us mere serfs that own nothing in the name of “saving the planet” while the elites track and control us while living their lavish lifestyles.

      3. Agreed but I disagree about Hydrogen being an energy source, it’s an energy vector.
        Oil ,coal, solar etc are an energy source, because after the energy spent to extract it you get more energy.
        With hydrogen you’ll always spend more energy than what you get from it.

          1. That’s false period. Elemental hydrogen reacts with oxygen and releases energy. So it’s absolutely a “vector.”

            Also grants for scientific research do produce advances, so what is your point in the “money racket” assertion.

            Should we not do research because not every dollar invested produces a breakthrough on its own?

            There have been many breakthroughs in hydrogen catalyst efficiency in recent years for example.

  6. Toyota bet big on hydrogen and have been trying to make it happen for a decade or more with PR like this… honestly with the progress EV’s have made and continue to make I just can’t see it happening for passenger cars.

    For trucks, trains, boats and jets it could absolutely make sense as the infrastructure and economics are very different and batteries are not currently a great fit.

  7. Proponents of Hydrogen (H2 combustion and HFCVs) tend to ignore the short-comings of the technology. Namely, H2 is grossly inefficient[1]; most H2 is Brown or Blue H2 which is dependent on fossil fuels; H2 vehicles produce NOx[2], which is a serious pollutant in cities.

    This article follows that tradition, with the exception of mentioning the H2 storage difficulties, because er, this article is about a solution to them, so it must talk about those difficulties.

    Green H2 – and proponents also seem to miss this out, can’t fuel HFCVs faster than charging EVs, for the same reason: they’re inefficient. It stands to reason that if HFCVs need 3.5x the energy of EVs, then for a given amount of renewable energy, you can charge EVs at 3.5x the speed (in km/h) you can fuel HFCVs. In all scenarios, it’s crazy to waste 2.5x the energy, so H2 vehicles can’t win. It could be a different story where outright energy density is required: Long-haul flights for example.

    Global sales of H2 vehicles since 2014 to 2021 = 17940 units. To put this in perspective, more full Battery EVs were sold in the UK in September, December 2020, March, June, September, November, December 2021 and March, May and June of 2022.

    [1] https://insideevs.com/news/332584/efficiency-compared-battery-electric-73-hydrogen-22-ice-13/
    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_internal_combustion_engine_vehicle#Pollutant_emissions

    1. “…can’t fuel HFCVs faster than charging EVs”

      Sure they can! A full “fill up” on a super charger is 45 minutes for an EV.
      There is a Fuel Cell bus yard in the city where I live with a public fueling dispenser.
      There is a fleet of fuel cell buses running out of it.
      A Mirai can pull in there and completely fuel in 10 minutes at a cost of about $20.00 for 5 Kilos at 10,000 PSI. Watched it done many times. No fuss. No muss. On down the road.

      Why did you link to an article about H2 combustion engines? It CAN be done, but why? Especially as the discussion is about fuel cells.

      1. What I mean is this. If say, you have a local electrolysis station, powered by renewable energy; and that the rate of electrolysis can match 100% of the delivery of electricity; then 1kWh delivered to the station can take an EV 4km, but an HFC only 1.14km.

        The same thing applies on a larger scale. If we allocate, say a sustained 19GW to 21GW over an 8 hour period at night in the UK, we could charge up all the cars in the UK, if they were EVs, but we can only refuel 2/7th of the cars if they were HFCs (which are more efficient than combustion H2 cars).

        We would have to allocate the UK’s maximum grid capacity (about 63GW) to charging HFCs overnight (i.e. providing the H2 via electrolysis).

        That’s just the math I’m afraid. At any one point, capacity is finite, and you get 3.5x the distance (or 3.5x the vehicles) via EVs. It’s no-brainer.

        1. However none of that maths actually rules out Hydrogen, it neatly points out that BEV have some benefits over a fuel cell from one point of view and nothing else.

          The thing Hydrogen has going for it, where it really can shine, especially on a more renewable powered grid is that your hydrogen generators are always connected just waiting for their to be that massive oversupply spike of solar/wind, so can actually capture and make some use of all the available energy. Yes the mile for KW efficiency of using it isn’t as high, but its a reliably scalable controllable system that balances the grid AND makes use of energy that would otherwise have been wasted!

          As The battery EV is on the other hand only available – as in plugged in perhaps 50% of the time, but probably not even that as for most folks you don’t even need to plug it in every night, once or twice a week is great – so even if you can command all the EV’s to suck up as much energy as they can in super quick mode right now you just don’t have the capacity, and many of the connected battery will be rather full already! So what then do you do with the wind/solar oversupply?

          You don’t have to allocate a sustained high load to the hydrogen generators, maybe not even any sustained load at all! As far as I know there are no large scale systems of ‘green’ hydrogen generation that really have any ramp up extra energy costs so it can just follow the supply…

  8. Do we know anything about the connector design?

    That seems like the item of interest here: having the design intern put a plastic shell over a standard compressed gas tank to make it pretty is not interesting; fighting about hydrogen is not interesting; compressed-gas storage for hydrogen is old news; but an idiot-proof and reliable connector for hydrogen tanks that doesn’t leak like mad even if you don’t treat it with care and attention might well be an interesting, though not earthshaking, piece of engineering.

    1. When (if) the product makes it to market, it will be “a more civilized age” where people will treat others and property with greater respect.
      None of this “Idiocracy” stuff.

      1. Perhaps it is, though that doesn’t seem to fit with Japanese culture and last I checked Toyota is still most certainly Japanese at heart. Still it is a public company that is part of the global market forces type world, so its more than plausible. But being Japanese and with the wealth Toyota already has behind it I’m not sure they would need or have real interest in ‘scaming for funding’ – as that sort of business model is generally for the here today gone tomorrow brand names that have no great heritage of quality and thus no value built up in their name…

        I am with Fuzzy however I’d love to get actual technical details, even if its just a more basic but fact filled overview of its lifecycle. Such simple and quick twist lock mechanism if its hydrogen tight and gets mass produced could well be good for many other things too…

        1. NOTHING known is ‘hydrogen tight’.
          Not steel, titanium, carbon fiber, glass, diamond or a duck’s butt.
          ‘Is a ducks butt watertight? is akin to ‘Does the pope shit in the woods?’ I know don’t explain, but ‘fuzzy foreigners’.

          1. Ok so read it – ‘hydrogen tight ENOUGH that it is of any use at all’ – which when you look at how leaky most quick disconnects are for things as easy to contain as water and low pressure air often are is still an impressive feat.

  9. There is this cute little car in the KU called the Riversimple Rasa. It carries 2.2 Kilos of H2 in a carbon fiber reinforced plastic tank at 5000 PSI, feeding an 8Kw fuelcell. The car can run for 5 hours at 60Mph on that load. That looks a lot like 45 KWh to me from 2.2 kilos mass. The tank it carries is larger than these cartridges, of course, but I think demonstrates the posibilities.

  10. You can do the same with batteries 🪫 🔋 Nissan Leaf 🍁 edition had tried modules in selected markets and thus far became a fail.

    Tank, or canisters for recreational use, like grills works, but serious use is not cost effective, nor market acceptable and is unlikely at this stage.

  11. Darn, I thought was a grinder with classifier feed thermonuclear biogasification alternator/generator do-hicky unit. I think that’s the closest thing to the “Mr Fusion” I can envision… whether portable or not. I suppose some selective membrane do-hicky’s for gas selection if you want only hydrogen. Then you’d need more emissions crap for all the carbon. Man, what’s up with that?

    1. Need something like feed spools of iron coated nickel wire, that you feed current to underwater, getting the iron hot enough to steal the O of the H2 and a close coupled palladium matrix to slurp up the hydrogen, and vacuum it out the other side… then return the naked nickel wire and rust from the bottom of the tank for regeneration.

      In theory, you can get enough energy out of the iron oxidising to carry the reaction, but need to pump watts in through the electric heating to get it going…. and then if sucking H2 out the palladium doesn’t cost you too much and you use the H2 efficiently, you might be enough above breakeven to do something with it, but iron has to be resmelted back from the rust and plated back to the nickel wire at a central facility also.

      But now you’re relying on the operation and efficiency of multiple energy conversion systems and the underperformance of one could mess up the whole deal, so you get a headache and think “What was so bad about flywheels again??”

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