Sunday, February 19, 2012

No. 441: World’s leading automakers try to standardize the hydrogen supply system (February 19, 2012)

Business trend
A total of 11 world’s leading automakers including Toyota and GM basically agreed to standardize the specifications of the connector between a storage tank and a vehicle of the hydrogen supply system. They are scheduled to formulate the standards to be certified by the International Standardization Organization (ISO) within the year. They move closely together to spread fuel cell vehicles. They expect fuel cell vehicles to spread substantially after 2015. Hydrogen that is the power source needs hyperbaric storage, and establishing a network of hydrogen stations like gas stations is vital to spread fuel cell vehicles. Without standardized connectors, it will be hard to establish a mass production system.

With the basic agreement on standardization, leading automakers are expected to strengthen their efforts to develop fuel cell vehicles extensively. Daimler-Benz will reportedly increase 20 hydrogen stations in alliance with the leading industrial gas company in Germany. With the joint development with Nissan-Renault, the company is scheduled to put a fuel cell vehicle in Japan toward 2015. In Japan, a total of 13 companies including Toyota and JX Nippon Oil & Energy will jointly work on establishing a network of hydrogen stations beginning in 2013. This move is in line with the mitigation of safety regulations involved in hydrogen tanks, they plan to increase the number of gas stations more than 6 times to 100 stations mainly along super express highways in the metropolitan areas.

The fuel cell vehicle is expected to be the ultimate eco car because it travels while generating electricity, whereas an electric vehicle travels with the stored electricity. In addition, it emits only water. Because hydrogen has 10 times higher energy density than the in-car lithium-ion battery, it has longer travel distance than an electric vehicle and supplying hydrogen does not need much time as charging an electric vehicle. These competitive advantages of the fuel cell vehicle over the electric car are supposedly the driving force to prompt world’s leading automakers to set up standards in a hurried manner, unlike in the case of the electric vehicle.

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