Toyota Researches and Experiments with Natural Gas Fuel Cells

Toyota Hybrid Power Generation System at Motomachi Plant

Toyota Hybrid Power Generation System at Motomachi Plant

Toyota is reportedly an advocate of hydrogen fuel cells and is currently researching a way to power its fuel cells with something novel: natural gas. The automaker is developing a new pressurised combined power generation system or a hybrid power generation system to supply power at the Motomachi Plant of the company in Toyota. To generate clean power, the system blends solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) and micro gas turbines.

Toyota would be evaluating the performance, energy efficiency, and durability of the hybrid power generation system by using it to provide power for the plant. The two-stage hybrid power generation system has five steps. At first, the fuel cell is reported to reform natural gas (CH4) to extract hydrogen (H) and carbon monoxide (CO). After that, a chemical reaction is expected to occur between the hydrogen and carbon monoxide with oxygen (O2), which is delivered to the micro gas engine through compressed air. The unused waste fuel from the extraction is reported to be delivered to the micro gas turbines that generate electricity whilst rotating. Through a cogeneration system, the waste heat is collected from the exhaust gas.

The output production of the hybrid power generation system is said to be around 250 kW and having a high generation efficiency of 55%. The addition of the cogeneration system augments the overall efficiency to around 65%. Meanwhile, the Motomachi Plant reportedly uses the electricity and waste heat from the system.

Toyota developed the system with the help from Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Ltd. and its subsidiary Toyota Turbine and Systems Inc. for the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO). This is part of the Technological Demonstration for targeting mass production of Pressurised Hybrid Power Generation System consisting of Cylindrical Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) and a Micro Gas Turbine (MGT).

The company aims at achieving a goal of zero carbon emissions in its plants by the year 2050, and this seems to be another step contributing to the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050. Meanwhile, Nissan is also working on a new Bio Fuel powertrain which could produce electricity from bio-ethanol or natural gas and uses SOFC for producing electricity.

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