A total of 33 countries are scheduled to adopt Japanese safety standards of fuel-cell vehicles soon. Although fuel-cell vehicles are the most promising next-generation vehicles because they do not emit exhaust fume at all, safety standards to prevent an accidental explosion of hydrogen are the most critical issue for the spread. The United Nations prepared the final draft of the safety standards mostly based on the Japanese standards, and the 33 countries including China and India are expected to agree formally with the final draft in the working group meeting to be held in Geneva of Switzerland between 24th and 28th of this month. Once the world standards are established, each of the 33 countries will modify its own system to satisfy the requirements of the world standards.
Japan established safety standards of fuel-cell vehicles in 2005 as the first country in the world. Japanese standards set the upper limit of hydrogen concentration inside the piping through which a fuel cell emits water at 4%. It is mandatory to install a system to prevent an accidental explosion when the hydrogen concentration exceeds 4%. In addition, the container needs durability that it does not deform even if increasing and decreasing the pressure inside the container is repeated for more than 22,000 times.
Toyota is trying to establish a technology that allows a fuel-cell vehicle to travel between Tokyo and Osaka, about 550 km, without additional filling of hydrogen halfway. One of the major problems with the spread of fuel-cell vehicles is the high construction cost of a hydrogen station. It costs 70-100 million yen to construct a gasoline station, whereas it costs 500-600 million yen to construct a hydrogen station. It is planned to construct 100 hydrogen stations in the urban area in 2015. According to a survey company, the world market of fuel-cell vehicles will grow dramatically form 300 million yen in 2011 to 2,910 billion yen in 2025, and sales of fuel-cell vehicles will jump from 40 units to more than 1,300,000 units.