New Toyota fuel cell hybrid has over 500 mile range

Toyota was so proud of their earlier fuel cell hybrid vehicle's (FCHV) 347 mile range that they took it on several adventurous treks. Now, the company's new 500+ mile range achievement must have them poring over the maps again, seeking the next great challenge for the vehicle, now monikered "FCHV adv" (advanced). We think the drive from Patagonia to Ecuador would be an exceptional tour de hydrogen fuel cell force. Not only would it give the folks at Toyota lots of quality time with this new iteration but it would challenge all the various components that were improved to reach their new range milestone.

The cold of the far South would sorely test the improvements made to the building block of the fuel cell, the Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA), that keeps water from interfering with electricity production when the mercury shrinks to -30C. The mountains of Peru would give the improved regenerative braking system a thorough working over while the humidity of Ecuador would demand the most of the upgraded degradation control for the electrode catalyst and the improved fuel cell durability. In short, the trip would be an excellent trial by tire. The journey would also be longer than what one filling of the new 10,000 psi hydrogen storage tanks would allow for so hopefully they would be able to bring along the mobile fuel unit to top them off once in a while.

Of course, they could just forgo all that hassle and use it as a test-ride vehicle at the Environmental Showcase for the International Media Center during the July 7-9 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, since it was granted certification by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) on June 3. Press release after the jump.

Press Release:

Toyota Develops Advanced Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle

TOYOTA FCHV-adv, with New Toyota FC Stack, Earns Vehicle-type CertificationTokyo

TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today that it has developed a fuel cell hybrid vehicle equipped with the newly designed high-performance Toyota FC Stack. The "TOYOTA FCHV-adv"*1 acquired vehicle-type certification from Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) on June 3.

During development, 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, tests conducted by the California Fuel Cell Partnership in the United States and cold-weather tests in Timmins, Canada. TMC also repeatedly carried out basic research to get to the core of technical problems as they arose. Based on the results gained from these studies, the TOYOTA FCHV-adv's fuel cell system was enhanced to further improve cruising distance and low-temperature starts, which had presented obstacles to widespread fuel cell vehicle use.

The building block of the Toyota FC Stack is the Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA), where engineers focused on the basic problem 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, allowing engineers to optimize the MEA design to improve low-temperature startup. As a result, the TOYOTA FCHV-adv can start and operate in cold regions at temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius, meaning the vehicle can be used in a wider variety of conditions and climates.

In addition, fuel efficiency was improved by 25% through improving 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 improving fuel cell durability. Furthermore, equipping the vehicle with TMC-developed 70Mpa high-pressure hydrogen tanks makes it possible to travel approximately 830km*2 on a single fueling-performance that more than doubles that of the TOYOTA FCHV-adv's predecessor, the TOYOTA FCHV.

While steadily conducting research and development to resolve issues such as how to improve the durability and reduce costs of the Toyota FC Stack, TMC is working with government, energy companies and other concerned parties to actively bring about widespread fuel cell vehicle use.

A Toyota FCHV-adv is to be provided as a test-ride vehicle at the Environmental Showcase within the International Media Center during the July 7-9 Hokkaido Toyako Summit.

[Source: Toyota]

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