Toyota powers big rigs with hydrogen fuel cells
Toyota has reconfigured a heavy-duty Class 8 semi-truck to run on hydrogen fuel cells from the Mirai fuel cell car as part of a feasibility study examining the use of the technology in heavy-duty applications. Dubbed "Project Portal," the study is a collaboration between Toyota Motor North America, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the California Energy Commission, and the California Air Resources Board.
The proof of concept zero-emissions semi-truck that will be the center of the study's focus will begin operating in the ports in the next few months. The truck looks to be a Kenworth semi-truck rig that has had its diesel powerplant removed and replaced with hydrogen fuel cells and electric motors. The truck remains capable of pulling the same loads it could when conventionally powered, with gross vehicle weights up to 80,000 pounds (36,287 kg).
The truck has two fuel cell stacks from the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car, hydrogen storage tanks, a 12 kWh battery, and heavy-duty electric motors on board. It generates over 670 horsepower (500 kW) and 1,325 foot pounds (1,796 Nm) of torque from its electric motors. Toyota estimates that the hydrogen fuel cell truck's driving range is over 200 miles (322 km) per fill under normal operations.
Project Portal is Toyota's step towards broadening the application of zero-emissions fuel cell technologies. The heavy-duty truck being developed for Project Portal will join passenger vehicles in Toyota's test and production fleets as well as fuel cell buses operating in Japan, all of which produce electricity from the chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, and emit nothing but water vapor at the tailpipe.
"Toyota believes that hydrogen fuel cell technology has tremendous potential to become the powertrain of the future," said Toyota Motors North America Vice President Bob Carter.
Previously, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have had other hydrogen fuel cell semi-trucks operating in and around them, including the Vision Tyrano from startup Vision Industries in LA. The Vision truck was successful in its testing, but the company ultimately went bankrupt in 2014.