Toyota has proven they are industry disruptors. The Prius is a great example of what Toyota has actively done to give our future a fighting chance.
Elon Musk has also been an industry disruptor as well. Fighting and giving up everything imaginable to get where Tesla Motors is today.
Both companies suffer from the same thing, and that is charging these cars and where. Tesla has its own electronic superhighway that dominates the American landscape. Giving Tesla Motors, a huge lead when it comes to building an empire around electric cars. The only downside is, you can only charge a Tesla, at a Tesla station.
So what if you could charge a Tesla at a Toyota Station what would that look like? The answer is closer than you think. Toyota Fuel Cell Technology is not just for cars, it is for supplying electrical power, which in turn can charge your Prius Prime, Tesla, or whatever flavor of EV you choose. Here is how they are doing it.
Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell Stacks
Originally developed for the Mirai, Toyota fuel cells were to be the technology of the future. Mirai literally means Future in Japanese. Toyota had envisioned this technology back in 1992, but just like Howard Stark, they were also limited by the technology of the time to really get this going.
During the birth of Prius and before, Toyota never gave up on the idea that Fuel Cells were a way to get us to cleaner and sustainable energy while minimizing the impact we have on the earth. Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan developed and built components called fuel cell stacks that turned hydrogen into electricity and then into water.
They do this by taking in compressed hydrogen, splitting the atom through a PEM cell and sending the electron through a circuit only to bond it on the other side with oxygen. This action creates electricity and can be readily used on demand.
The idea behind this is incredible. With hydrogen being the most abundant element on the planet, this looked like no brainer. But the fuel cell stacks were not without lots of failed trials and many refinements to get them to where they are today.
Toyota Motor North America has also scrapped the research part of the program and has adopted the Mirai into mainstream production. Under limited numbers of course.
What These Stations Mean For Prius,Tesla And All EV Owners
These stations are meant to be power stations that can provide power to buildings well as be places for electric cars to charge. Better yet, they are actual zero emissions power supplies, depending on where the hydrogen comes from.
Currently, there is not a good clean "green" method to getting hydrogen which is what is really holding it back. The major source right now is reforming natural gas and stripping the hydrogen away from it. Not exactly helping the technology be as green as it could be.
Hydrogen could be renewable if we could mass produce it in a cost effective way, there would be nothing really holding the technology back from moving us in a great direction for sustainable energy.
So far the closest thing that Toyota can do to get further along the efficiency road is adding solar panels. While this is a step in a good direction for cars like the Prius Prime, it is not where we could be.
While Hydrogen fuel cell tech is a great idea, unless Toyota and/or any other company can figure out cheap hydrogen manufacturing, we are going to be left chasing the perfect hybrid and electric vehicle.
Thanks for reading, See you in a Prius story where I am discussing why Carista is the best $20 tool for your Toyota Prius.
Check out my other article out where https://www.torquenews.com/8113/3-reasons-toyota-should-bring-back-prius-v-awd-e.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He is an automotive technology instructor at Columbia Basin College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Adjunct Instructor of automotive technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter.