• Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
  • Image Credit: Toyota
The Japanese government is really paving the way for hydrogen fuel cell technology on its roads. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is changing regulations on fuel tanks to make hydrogen cars more appealing to drivers, which should help put the country ahead of others in the race to develop a viable H2 fleet.

Japan is raising the allowed pressure of hydrogen tanks from 700 atmospheres to 875, which has the effect of increasing driving range by 20 percent. This move puts the country in line with others with high-pressure fueling regulations. Japan is also in talks with the United Nations and the European Union to streamline inspection rules to make it easier to export Japan's fuel-cell vehicles.

Toyota premiered its hydrogen-powered FCV Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show last year and plans to release a production version as early as next year. Honda also plans to build its own fuel-cell cars for 2015, and it debuted its FCEV Concept at last year's Los Angeles Auto Show. Nissan is sending mixed messages on hydrogen, both questioning the availability of a refueling infrastructure and working on developing the vehicles. In Japan, a relatively small country, increasing the range of fuel-cell vehicles makes creating a usable infrastructure a bit less daunting.

Will hydrogen-fueled electric cars see the same sort of success as Toyota's Prius hybrid or battery-powered EVs? Only time will tell, but we can keep our fingers crossed that it will, and that the popularity spills over beyond Asia.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 58 Comments
      DarylMc
      • 7 Months Ago
      Hi Dave It's a bit misleading to compare forest land area percentage between countries of vastly different size and population density. I don't have anything against HFC vehicles but you would have to be kidding yourself if you think the fuel is going to come from anywhere other than natural gas reforming for quite some time. The same could probably be said for EV's charging off the grid but I think there is a lot more chance a good number of them can make use of renewable power sources.
      Jim1961
      • 7 Months Ago
      Virtually all commercially available hydrogen comes from the steam reforming of natural gas. In the process of chemical reformation, CO2 is vented to the atmosphere. There is no environmental advantage to fuel cell vehicles if the hydrogen comes from natural gas and if the hydrogen comes from hydrolysis using clean energy sources it will three times as expensive to produce. Here's a very detailed analysis of the carbon emissions of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/05/20/fuel-cell-vehicle-ghg-emissions/
        DarylMc
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Jim1961
        Hi Jim1961 Goodness I thought MPGe was tough to see as a relevant figure and that report introduces MPGp I understand methane is a high global warming factor gas. What I don't have any understanding of is whether it is better to turn it to CO2 by consuming it (assuming it might be released in any case).
        CoolWaters
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Jim1961
        The best case would be to keep it packed in ice, under the ground. Any other solution, isn't.
        DarylMc
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Jim1961
        At the moment I am thinking consume it before it can reach the atmosphere but am all ears for other information.
      CoolWaters
      • 7 Months Ago
      Does Japan plan to become an IMPORT SLAVE to methane fracking ships? How does a nation dependent on Foreign Oil decide to Keep itself enslaved to another Foreign Energy Source?
      RC
      • 7 Months Ago
      Hydrogen is such a dead end that now the way to increase its range is by making its tanks less safe.
        Edge
        • 7 Months Ago
        @RC
        And if an EV catches fire due to it's batteries overloading, it's all accepted under the excuse, that gas cars catch fire also.
      Joeviocoe
      • 7 Months Ago
      --"since most of our electricity comes from coal" If you are going to continue that blatant lie... how can anyone believe you about the other stuff you say?
      Luciano
      • 7 Months Ago
      While I agree with you that there are initiatives using clean sources, in the end of the day hydrogen is just another way to keep us slaved to another source of energy, the same we are with oil. That's the strategy behind all this lobby. I'll take my EV using solar power, with wind on top, thank you very much. :)
      CoolWaters
      • 7 Months Ago
      There is NO ongoing development to find an efficient clean hydrogen source. They've already got methane locked up for that. And since fracking sites leak methane into the air like sieve's it's just as bad as coal.
      JakeY
      • 7 Months Ago
      "Japan is raising the allowed pressure of hydrogen tanks from 700 atmospheres to 875, which has the effect of increasing driving range by 20 percent." This is incorrect and shows how things can get lost in translation. The change allows the station to have 875 bar storage tanks. However, the cars will still be using 700 bar tanks. If you want to dispense hydrogen quickly from the station's storage tanks to the car's, the station's tanks must be at higher pressure than the car's. http://ieahia.org/pdfs/Compressed_Hydrogen_Infrastructure.pdf This is why it says it's bringing it up to international standards. If they are talking about 875 bar tanks in the cars, then it would be introducing something beyond international standards (and the station tanks will need even higher pressure). The direct link to the discussed measure makes it more clear. The filling pressure is 5/4s of the nominal pressure. That means when filling the tank up, it can use 875 bars of pressure for a tank that would be rated at 700 bar when completely filled. This is what is required to achieve those 3 minute refilling times. "The maximum pressure concerning the international compressed hydrogen containers for vehicle fuel systems is to be defined as “a figure which represents the maximum pressure of the gas applied to the container during filling it with the fuel, and which represents a pressure corresponding to five-fourths of the nominal working pressure, which is stipulated in the following provision.”" http://www.meti.go.jp/english/press/2014/0530_02.html
        Letstakeawalk
        • 7 Months Ago
        @JakeY
        I'd like to thank JakeY for providing a nearly ten-year old link. It clearly demonstrates the degree of testing that has been going on to ensure the safety and durability of the hydrogen refueling systems. Likewise, the second (more recent) link exposes the lengthy process by which the harmonization of codes and standards have been happening; this revision affects standards formulated in the late 1990's and only finally adopted in 2013. Certainly, we may be reading the revisions differently. When I read "... compressed hydrogen containers for vehicle fuel systems..." I interpret those words to apply to the onboard storage tanks of FCVs. I may be incorrect, but no doubt we'll see soon enough. It appears to me that the Japanese authorities have decided that the onboard tanks of FCVs might have a maximum pressure equal to five fourths of the tanks nominal pressure. Meaning, if the tank has a nominal working pressure of 700 bar, then the maximum allowed working pressure of an FCV's onboard storage would be 875 bar. The testing pressure would then be higher, at six fifths of that maximum working pressure. I think the article is clear in its exposition, I'm not sure that JakeY's interpretation is correct. Again, we'll wait and see what the Japanese FCV makers do.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          The UN explanation makes sense. Thanks. The end result though, is that the tanks are getting a greater fill than they had been before. If the tanks were only filled to 700 bar, after the cooling happened, the actual tank pressure would be less. So, by allowing the tanks to be filled to a higher max pressure, more hydrogen is indeed being stored in the tank, which would definitely increase the range of the FCV. So, the FCV range will increase with this allowance of higher max pressures during refueling.
          JakeY
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Perhaps a better analogy is tires and air compressors. Number 3 basically defines "nominal working pressure" as the pressure of a tank fully filled with compressed hydrogen at 15 degrees Celsius. Say for example, your tire is rated for 30psi (analogous to 700 bar tank). Number 2 refers to the pressure when refilling ("maximum pressure of the gas applied to the container during filling it with the fuel"). A typical air compressor for example can be at 100psi inside the compressor tank (analogous to the 875 bar tanks inside the stations), even though you are using it to fill a tire only to 30psi.
          JakeY
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          @Letstakeawalk Yes, it would increase relative to what they had before, but not relative to 700 bar tanks in general, and what had been happening internationally. That was my main point. The article makes it sound like Japan is introducing 875 bar tanks (I'm sure I'm not the only one that got the impression), which is not the case. That's the misleading part of it.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Thanks for agreeing that the tanks will indeed store a larger amount of hydrogen in the FCV, which will allow the vehicle to have a greater range than before. Now, if you'd care to do the math to disprove the 20% increase in range? Do you think it's only a 10% increase in range? OR maybe another amount....
          JakeY
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          "I interpret those words to apply to the onboard storage tanks of FCVs" It applies there only in terms of maximum fueling pressure. You DO apply 875 bars of fueling pressure directly to the onboard storage tank of the FCV. However, when you ask "how many bars is that onboard storage tank?" The answer is still 700 bar (the "nominal working pressure"). In other words, you still call that tank a 700 bar tank, the same kind of tanks we have seen internationally for quite some time. The number 3 point of the press release make it more clear: "the nominal working pressure concerning the international compressed hydrogen containers for vehicle fuel systems is to be defined as “a figure which represents the reference pressure indicating operating characteristics in using a container fully filled with compressed hydrogen at a temperature of 15 degrees Celsius.”" The only tanks that have a "nominal working pressure" of 875 bar will be the tanks inside the stations. You can try googling for 875 bar tanks if you don't believe me, the only reference you will find is for tanks inside stations. We can go back to the battery analogy. The batteries are rated at nominal voltage, even though you can apply a charging voltage that's higher than nominal voltage to charge it.
          JakeY
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          @Letstakeawalk ""Overfilling" the tank of an FCV, within these specified limits, can be done safely, and can also increase the range of the FCV. My analogy would be a car with a 13.2 gallon tank. There's still more room in the fuel line leading to the tank, and so it is possible to put 14 gallons into that same car - safely." No, that's not how it works. Perhaps the UN document can explain it better than me: "During the normal "fast fill" fuelling process, the pressure inside the container(s) may rise to 25 per cent above the nominal working pressure as adiabatic compression of the gas causes heating within the containers. As the temperature in the container cools after fuelling, the pressure is reduced. By definition, the settled pressure of the system will be equal to the nominal working pressure when the container is at 15 °C." http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/main/wp29/wp29wgs/wp29gen/wp29registry/ECE-TRANS-180a13e.pdf The "maximum pressure" is used to account for the peak pressures a tank can see during refueling, and the only time it may see a steady state pressure of 875 bar is during gas temperatures higher than 15 degrees Celsius. However, when the temperature of the gas goes down to 15 degrees Celsius, the pressure will go back to 700 bar (the steady state pressure of the tank). So, no, a NWP 700 bar tank can't store the equivalent amount of hydrogen as a NWP 875 bar tank by "overfilling", even though its MP is 875. If you try to do so, the peak pressures you exert on the tank will be even higher than 875, which would exceed the design specifications of that tank.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          "The only tanks that have a "nominal working pressure" of 875 bar will be the tanks inside the stations." Correct. The tanks inside the FCVs still have a NWP of 700 bar, while having a MP of 875 bar. "Overfilling" the tank of an FCV, within these specified limits, can be done safely, and can also increase the range of the FCV. My analogy would be a car with a 13.2 gallon tank. There's still more room in the fuel line leading to the tank, and so it is possible to put 14 gallons into that same car - safely.
        JakeY
        • 7 Months Ago
        @JakeY
        For those battery guys out there, it would be analogous to the charging voltage (usually 4.2V for li-ion batteries) versus the nominal voltage (usually 3.6-3.7V).
        DarylMc
        • 7 Months Ago
        @JakeY
        Hi JakeY Every link I clicked on in the article suggests that they are increasing the vehicle tank pressure and vehicle range.
          JakeY
          • 7 Months Ago
          @DarylMc
          Forgot to say which page to look at on the UN document for the actual international specification. It's page 10, number 18.
          JakeY
          • 7 Months Ago
          @DarylMc
          That's because every link you clicked referenced the Nikkei article below and paraphrased, when the Nikkei article itself got it wrong: http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Japan-aiming-to-become-forerunner-in-fuel-cell-cars It doesn't get any more direct than this link I gave to the press release from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI, the actual organization that's setting this standard) : http://www.meti.go.jp/english/press/2014/0530_02.html This is mix-up is the result of journalists adding extra analysis for technical things they don't really fully understand. I'll reiterate: the 875 bar "maximum pressure" METI refers to is the refueling pressure, which is 5/4 the "nominal working pressure" which is the actual rating of the tank in the vehicle, which is 700 bar in this case (has it has been internationally). This change is intended to bring harmonize Japan standards with the UNECE Global Technical Regulations (GTRs). These specify: nominal working pressure of 35 MPa (AKA 350 bar) or 70 MPa (AKA 700 bar) maximum fueling pressures of 125 percent (AKA 5/4s) of nominal working pressure, which works out to 43.8 MPa (AKA 438 bar) or 87.5 MPa (AKA the 875 bar "maximum pressure" referenced here). http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/main/wp29/wp29wgs/wp29gen/wp29registry/ECE-TRANS-180a13e.pdf
          JakeY
          • 7 Months Ago
          @DarylMc
          Also, 87.5 MPa is mentioned explicitly (it's not math I did myself, although the way I phrased it gives that impression).
          DarylMc
          • 7 Months Ago
          @DarylMc
          Hi JakeY I did read the meti link. It was just so far from the stories in all the articles that I could not understand what you were saying. I got it now. The writer should find some links or fix the article.
      goodoldgorr
      • 7 Months Ago
      Im glad that they continu to improve the fuelcell cars. Everybody here should promote hydrogen everywhere because we don't hear about hydrogen on tv or newspapers. The success now depend on the hydrogen infrastructure because the fuelcell cars are ok. There is numerous ways to do hydrogen. If they really are serious then the price of driving on hydrogen should be better than gasoline/diesel and even competitive with batteries. They got breakthrus with water electrolysis but did they actually implemented these breakthrus for real. There is also hydrogen made with natural gas, actually they flare a lot of natural gas, this could provide plenty of hydrogen at low low price. There is also hydrogen made by green algae farming and there is also water and metal reactions, etc. The success lie in a low price for hydrogen made at the point of sale by automatic machinery, all and all 10 time cheaper then gasoline. Gasoline cost a fortune and it pollute enormously, this is the number one disaster for mankind except maybe wars, terrorism, disease, drugs, poverty, republicans, tv cable bills, etc. Gasoline pollute before you refill your tank by refining, transport, price hack by opec and exxon, gas flaring, spills, etc. Hydrogen is safe, non-polluting and we are late on this since 1973 when wall streets jack-up the price of the stuff and put the blame on arabs and opec. Check out inflation and the profits of major oil companies since 1973. There is numerous paid bloggers here that are paid by big oil.
      EVdriver
      • 7 Months Ago
      "Will hydrogen-fueled electric cars see the same sort of success as Toyota's Prius hybrid or battery-powered EVs?" No.
      Actionable Mango
      • 7 Months Ago
      It seems like some people are really overreacting to the article. All Japan did was change a rule about the amount of allowable pressure, and suddenly people think its the end of the world.
        Edge
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Actionable Mango
        Because a 25% increase with a single government mandate is a huge increase for the hydrogen initiative, that strikes fear and loathing into bias EV advocates.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Edge
          Imagine if battery storage capacity could be increased 25% with the simple stroke of a pen!
      danfred311
      • 7 Months Ago
      good luck with that
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