Toyota Motor Corp, East Japan Railway Company (JR East), and Hitachi Ltd have agreed to collaborate on the development of test railway vehicles. It will be equipped with hybrid systems that use hydrogen-powered fuel cells and storage batteries as their source of electricity. By collaborating to develop these test railway vehicles, the three companies aim to improve the environmental superiority of railways further and realize a sustainable society.
The first goal is contributing to a carbon-free society with next-generation railway vehicles. As efforts are made throughout the world to create sustainable communities, the same is also true for the railway sector, a means of mass transport, where there is high anticipation for next-generation rolling stock that operates using clean energy, such as hydrogen. This element ensures minimal environmental impact as it does not emit any carbon dioxide when used as an energy source, and it can be produced from various raw materials using renewable energy. The development of innovative rolling stock powered by hydrogen will therefore contribute to the development of a low-carbon society as it helps to curb global warming and diversify energy sources.
Next is a collaboration to develop hybrid (fuel cell) test vehicles combining railway and automotive technologies, namely JR East’s railway vehicle design and manufacturing technologies, Hitachi’s railway hybrid drive system technologies developed with JR East, and Toyota’s technologies acquired through the development of the Mirai fuel cell EV and the SORA fuel cell bus. The three companies will adapt the fuel cells used in automobiles for railway applications. Together, they will create hybrid (fuel cell) test vehicles to achieve the high-power output control necessary to drive railway vehicles, which are much larger than automobiles.
The hydrogen used to fill the hydrogen tank is supplied to the fuel cell device and undergoes a chemical reaction with oxygen in the air to generate electricity. The main circuit storage battery is charged by electric power from the fuel cell device and by capturing and converting energy to electric power using regenerative braking. The hybrid drive system supplies the electric power to the traction motors from both the fuel cell device and the main circuit storage battery, controlling the movement of the wheels. Toyota will develop the fuel cell device, and Hitachi will develop the hybrid drive system.
Dubbed as Hybari (Hydrogen-HyBrid Advanced Rail Vehicle for Innovation), this nickname was adopted to evoke an image of an advanced hybrid railway vehicle equipped with fuel cells and the main circuit storage battery that will generate innovation. “Hy” represents hydrogen, while “Hyb” means hybrid. Design incorporating a blue splash pattern to represent the moistening of the earth and symbolize water generated from the chemical reaction in the fuel cells as a motif, and the railway vehicle design conveys both a sense of speed and a futuristic image.
The lark logo, meantime, is known as a harbinger of spring. The Hybari logo of the test vehicles was designed to represent the introduction of new energy for vehicles like a breath of spring onto the land. The start of testing is scheduled in March 2022 along the JR East Tsurumi Line and Nambu Line, among others.
Here are the main specs of the FV-E991 test vehicle—a two-car train configuration: Maximum speed of 100 kph, acceleration of 2.3 kph/second, with an approximate range of 140 km; primary circuit devices are two units of inverters (VVVF inverter), traction motors with 95 kW power (4 fuel cell device), solid polymer electrolyte with 60 kW (4 main circuit storage battery, lithium-ion battery with 120 kWh (2 hydrogen tanks) maximum filling pressure of 70 MPa (approximately 700 atmospheres); hydrogen storage capacity is 51 liters × five tanks × four units.
Class 8 Fuel Cell electric truck to be developed
Meanwhile, with the rapidly expanding interest in heavy-duty electric trucks, Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) and Hino USA have agreed to jointly develop a Class 8 fuel cell electric truck (FCET) for the North American market. The companies will leverage the newly developed Hino XL Series chassis with Toyota’s proven fuel cell technology to deliver exceptional capability without harmful emissions. This collaboration expands upon the existing effort to create a 25-ton FCET for the Japanese market, which was announced earlier this year. The first demonstration vehicle is expected to arrive in the first half of 2021.
“A fuel cell-powered version of the Hino XL Series is a win-win for both customers and the community. It will be quiet, smooth and powerful while emitting nothing but water,” said Tak Yokoo, Senior Executive Engineer at Toyota Research and Development. “Toyota’s twenty-plus years of fuel cell technology combined with Hino’s heavy-duty truck experience will create an innovative and capable product.”
“Expanding upon our proud heritage of the Hino powertrain, Toyota Fuel Cell Technology offers our customers a commercially viable, extended range, zero-emissions vehicle in the near term,” said Glenn Ellis, Hino’s Senior Vice President for Customer Experience. “Hino shares a common focus with Toyota when it comes to durability, reliability, and innovation with the customer at the center of design which makes this collaboration a game-changer.” (Story and photos from Toyota Motor Corporation)