Toyota’s US HQ demos hydrogen as an onsite energy alternative

Posted on 18 Oct 2012 by Tim Brown

Toyota Motor Sales USA has announced that it has installed and activated a new and very large hydrogen fuel-cell generator on the campus at its Torrance, California headquarters.

The new fuel cell was activated yesterday and can produce 1.1-megawatts of electricity using hydrogen as the fuel.

The fuel cell will supply approximately half of the electricity for six headquarters buildings during peak demand, while producing zero emissions. Designed and built by Ballard Power Systems, the proprietary Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) stationary fuel cell is the largest PEM fuel cell of its kind.

The fuel cell is powered by hydrogen gas fed directly from a pre-existing industrial hydrogen pipeline, also a first for this technology. This direct power source allows Toyota to reduce utility grid electricity usage during peak power demand. The same hydrogen pipeline also supplies a hydrogen filling station adjacent to the TMS campus used to fuel Toyota’s and other manufacturers fuel cell hybrid vehicle fleets.

Hydrogen is delivered to the massive fuel-cell via a pipeline that also supplies a hydrogen filling station adjacent to the Toyota campus that is used to fill Toyota and other manufacturer’s fuel-cell hybrid vehicle fleets. The 1.1-megawatts of electricity that the fuel-cell produces would be able to provide power for about 765 homes.

That amount of electricity is roughly twice the capacity of the existing solar panel systems on the campus. Toyota expects the giant fuel cell to reduce CO2 emissions by 3.3 million pounds during summer peak period operation hours. That CO2 savings is equivalent to taking 294 cars off the road for a year. Toyota will save about $130,000 a year in reduced energy purchased from local power companies.

“Supporting alternative energy sources like hydrogen supports Toyota’s overarching commitment to lessen our impact on the environment and drive forward innovative technology,” said Bob Daly, TMS senior vice president. “Not only will this new hydrogen fuel cell generator reduce the environmental footprint of our headquarters campus, but it showcases the power and potential of hydrogen as a fuel source.”

Hydrogen within the dedicated pipeline is provided by Air Products and created from natural gas reformation. To mitigate emissions from the reformation process, hydrogen used on Toyota’s campus will be offset with the purchase of landfill generated renewable bio-gas. Operation of the stationary fuel cell creates zero air emissions.