This tech is as efficient as a conventional hydrogen fuel cell but doesn't require compressed H2 to run.

One of the major stumbling blocks for the proliferation of hydrogen fuel cells is that lack of infrastructure for refueling them. However, Toyota is now experimenting with a hybrid method that might solve the problem by using natural gas as the base fuel and incorporating a micro hybrid gas turbine into the system.

The structure for making this electricity generation possible is rather complex. The process starts by converting natural gas into carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2). A compressor also injects air into the mix, and a chemical reaction through the fuel cell stack creates electricity.

Toyota Hybrid Fuel Cell

After this step, some H2 and CO remains as waste fuel, and this material goes to the micro gas turbine where a combustion process generates more electricity. As a final step, a co-generation system uses waste heat for producing additional power.

Toyota is conducting trials of the hybrid fuel cell at its Motomachi Plant in Japan, and the company is evaluating the system’s energy efficiency, performance, and durability. The automaker’s photos suggest this system is massive, though. According to the company, it produces 335 horsepower (250 kilowatts), which also doesn’t seem very impressive given the large size.

Toyota Hybrid Fuel Cell

The automaker believes the hybrid fuel cell has a generating efficiency of 55 percent, and the waste heat co-generation system boosts the figure to 65 percent. For comparison, the United States Department of Energy reports the type of hydrogen fuel cells for transportation generally have generating efficiency between 50 and 60 percent

In 2016, Nissan showed off its own concept for a hybrid fuel cell, but the company’s solution ran on ethanol. It was also compact enough to fit in an E-NV200 van. A 24-kilowatt-hour battery and 7.9-gallon (30-liter) fuel tank provided an alleged range of 373 miles (600 kilometers). The company planned to further evaluate the experimental drivetrain on Brazilian roads.

Source: Toyota

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