3/15/2016 | 1 MINUTE READ

Toyota Partners with Japanese Cities on Clean Hydrogen Production

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Later this year Toyota Motor Corp. will begin testing 12 fuel cell-powered forklifts that run on hydrogen generated via a wind-powered water electrolysis process.

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Later this year Toyota Motor Corp. will begin testing 12 fuel cell-powered forklifts that run on hydrogen generated via a wind-powered water electrolysis process.

Toyota is partnering with the cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki as well as the prefectural Kanagawa government, electronics giant Toshiba and energy supplier Iwatani on the project.

The forklifts will be able to run about eight hours and can be refueled in as little as three minutes, according to the carmaker. Toyota introduced its first fuel cell-powered forklift, which runs on hydrogen derived from fossil fuels, in Japan earlier this month.

The Hama Wing wind power facility in Yokohama will produce the hydrogen under the new program. The fuel will be compressed and transported by trucks to four independent test sites a warehouse, brewery, fruit market and a distribution center in Yokohama and Kawasaki. Enough hydrogen to power the forklifts for two days will be stored on the transport trucks at each facility.

Under the three-year demonstration program, the partners will assess the performance of the fuel cell forklifts and determine the efficiency and cost of producing hydrogen via wind power.

Noting that it's easier to store hydrogen than electricity, Toyota views fuel cells as the best long-term alternative powertrain for passenger vehicles, if cost and technical hurdles can be overcome. The company began limited sales of the Mirai fuel cell-powered midsize car in the U.S. and Japan last year. With a driving range of more than 300 miles, the Mirai has a U.S. government gasoline-equivalent rating of 67 mpg.

In Japan, Toyota is working with Honda and Nissan to help create a hydrogen refueling infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles. A recent report by The Nikkei says Toyota also is planning a pilot program that would use fuel cells to power a factory's heating and cooling systems. These systems would use solar and wind power to extract hydrogen from water, according to the newspaper.