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article imageToyota improves fuel cell truck

By Tim Sandle     Aug 11, 2018 in Technology
Toyota have been investing in low polluting fuel cells for large vehicles. The company has been experimenting with hydrogen powered fuel cell drive vehicles since 2017. The new design offers increased range.
The Japanese automotive group has a renewed focus on pollution-free freight and goods traffic. This is cantered on a heavy fuel cell truck. A "beta" truck is in development, which, if successful, will become the pilot truck for a fleet.
The tests show that the pilot truck can travel travel up to 480 kilometers (or 300 miles) based on just one hydrogen tank filling. As well as having considerable range, the fuel cell design provides improved manoeuvrability. This factor is aided by fuel accommodation. A new design allows for the driver’s cab to be increased in size without the need to extend the wheelbase.
Toyota’s experiments with hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles forms part of "Project Portal". The aim is to enable low noise and low pollution freight trucks to be developed on a large scale. The prototype truck is called the ‘Alpha Truck’.
Since the first designs in April 2017, Toyota has tested trucks across some 16,000 kilometers. The test area has been in the U.S., around the Californian ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The trucks have been loaded with cargo to assess maximum loads.
The Alpha truck can carry large loads. This happens through the use of two fuel cell stacks supported by a relatively small battery. As with the use of hydrogen fuel cells in cars, the only emission is water vapor.
With the development, a new trial phase is set to start during the autumn. According to Andrew Lund, who is the chief engineer of the project: “By evaluating the first truck in our test facilities and on real-life roads in the Los Angeles area, we have drawn up a list of improvements to the production and performance of the beta truck.”
Lund adds: “After the first truck proved its basic feasibility, we needed something that was not only better than the first model, but also more commercially viable."
The company is of the view that the truck has major market potential. Over 16,000 trucks are in service around the California ports and this represents a tiny amount of the trucks in use worldwide. Many of these trucks are heavily polluting, being based on conventional combustion engines.
The use of vehicles based on fuel cell technology will go some way to reducing the environmental impact. This is in keeping with Toyota’s internal environmental goals, which are set out in the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050.
From 2020 Toyota has plans to greatly expand the mass production of fuel cell stacks and hydrogen tanks. This reflects the growing demand for alternatively powered vehicles.
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