Toyota Motor Corp developed a fuel cell hybrid vehicle "Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle-advanced (FCHV-adv)" equipped with a newly designed high-performance fuel cell "FC Stack."
The FCHV-adv acquired vehicle-type certification from Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure Transport and Tourism on June 3, 2008. The cruising distance of the FCHV, which was released for leasing in 2002 and is the predecessor of the FCHV-adv, was only 330km.
The FCHV-adv that ran between Tokyo and Osaka in September 2007, on the other hand, could travel 780km. The range of the FCHV-adv has been further extended to 830km.
During the development of fuel cell hybrid vehicles, Toyota analyzed data from various utilization studies, such as field tests conducted as part of the Japan Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Demonstration Project (JHFC) by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, road tests conducted in the US by the California Fuel Cell Partnership and the cold weather tests in Timmins, Ontario, Canada.
Toyota also repeatedly carried out basic research to elucidate mechanisms that caused technical problems. Based on the results achieved from these efforts, the FCHV-adv's fuel cell system was redesigned to further improve cold-start performance and cruising distance, which presented obstacles to the widespread use of fuel cell hybrids.
Specifically, Toyota focused on the problem of condensation being produced inside the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) freezing at low temperatures and interfering with electrical generation. The company visualized the interior of the power generation cell and carried out fundamental research on the behavior and the amount of condensation produced.
Based on the research results, the company optimized the MEA design and improved the control system of the fuel cell, thereby controlling the generation of water. As a result, the FCHV-adv can start and operate in cold regions at temperatures as low as -30°C.
Compared with the FCHV, the fuel efficiency of the FCHV-adv is improved by approximately 25% through the improvement of fuel cell unit performance, reduction of power consumed by the auxiliary system and enhancement of regenerative brake system. Details about FCHV-adv's fuel efficiency were unveiled at last year's EVS23.
A proprietary 70MPa high-pressure hydrogen tank mounted on the FCHV-adv makes it possible to travel approximately 830km (10-15 test cycle, measured by Toyota) with one charge of hydrogen. This distance is more than double that of the FCHV. Furthermore, the new vehicle employs degradation control for the electrode catalyst, thus enhancing fuel cell durability.
Toyota plans to provide an FCHV-adv as a test-ride vehicle at the Environmental Showcase, which will be set up in the International Media Center during Hokkaido Toyako Summit (from July 7 to 9, 2008).