Good Day World!
Electric cars have become commonplace.
Now, there’s a new technology on the block that’s arrived like a fresh breath of air.
Toyota’s new fuel cell vehicle – Mirai - was unveiled on Nov.17th. The new technology includes the vehicle’s fuel cell stack, its converter, and its hydrogen storage tanks.
The Toyota Mirai can travel 300 miles on a single tank of compressed hydrogen, it has 153 horsepower with 247 lb-ft of torque, and it can go from 0-60 mph in 9 seconds. The hydrogen car will be available in California in the fall of 2015 for under $45,000 after incentives. It’s coming to the East Cost shortly thereafter.
But the automaker is promising much more than a sleekly styled zero emission vehicle; Mirai translates to “the future” in Japanese, and Toyota’s goal is to pave the way to a hydrogen-based society.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and there are many ways to produce it – including natural gas, wind, solar, geothermal, and bio-waste.
While there’s obvious reservations about the use of natural gas, the technology does provide an effective means of storing excess solar and wind energy through electrolysis, which uses an electric current to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas.
For transportation purposes, hydrogen tanks can store more energy in less space than batteries, and it only takes 5 minutes to fill a hydrogen tank at fueling station – compared to the hours it takes to charge many electric vehicles.
As long as the source of the hydrogen is clean, hydrogen vehicles are 100% zero emission – their only byproducts are water and heat.
Toyota decided to make its first commercially available hydrogen vehicle a sedan for two reasons. First, they saw the challenge of packing a fuel cell system into a relatively compact vehicle as an opportunity – this forced them to work within constraints and develop a system that works on a small scale (but that can be scaled up to power utility vehicles, buses, and even airplanes).
Second, they know that in order for the vehicle to start a revolution it had to be accessible and appealing to the mass market, and sedans are the largest segment of vehicles on the streets today. (Source)
The Mirai has been 20 years in the making.
Will it’s new technology become as common as electric cars some day? Time will tell. Meanwhile good luck finding a filling station.
Time for me to walk on down the road…