Right now the spotlight is on plug-in hybrids and electric cars, but that doesn't mean that everybody has stopped thinking about fuel cell vehicles. Of course, it doesn't seem like they'll be the next big thing (maybe the one after that, or maybe they'll never make sense), but it's a good idea not to put all of our technological eggs in the same basket.
Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle, Better in Every Way
The Toyota fuel cell hybrid vehicle (FCHV) is based on the Highlander SUV, probably because that gives more space to engineers to cram in drivetrain prototypes. The new and improve version is 25% more fuel efficient thanks to a new high-performance fuel cell stack, better regenerative brakes, and more frugal auxiliary systems. Longer Hydrogen Driving Range
It also has a 70 Mpa (10,000 psi) hydrogen tank developed by Toyota. This allows the new FCHV to drive 830 kilometers (516 miles) in the Japanese 10-15 cycle, and 760 kilometers (472 miles) in the JC08 cycle. This is getting very competitive with traditional cars, and is over 2x the range of the previous FCHV (which was 330 km).
Cold Starting Capabilities
Another improvement that those of us who live up North will appreciate is the capability to start in cold weather. The Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle can start in temperatures as low as -30° Celsius (-22° fahrenheit)!
Indirect Green Benefits
One thing to keep in mind is that even if we don't see fuel cell vehicles on the roads for a long time (or ever), discoveries and R&D; can be used in other types of fuel cells, such as residential, industrial, consumer electronics, etc. Maybe hydrogen will make sense in some of these before it does with transportation.
Fuel Cells and Hydrogen
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Boeing Flies First Ever Hydrogen Fuel Cell Plane
E. Coli: The Next Big Source of Hydrogen Fuel?
More on the Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle
Toyota Develops Advanced Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle
Toyota Unveils Improved Version of Its Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle With More Than 2x the Range