Toyota Researching Natural Gas for Fuel Cells
Toyota is researching and developing a new pressurized combined power generation system or hybrid power generation system to provide power at the company’s Motomachi Plant in Toyota City. The system combines solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) and micro gas turbines to generate clean power.
Toyota will evaluate the hybrid power generation system’s performance, energy efficiency, and durability by using it to provide power for the plant.
There are five steps in the two-stage hybrid power generation system. First, the fuel cell reforms natural gas (CH4) to extract hydrogen (H) and carbon monoxide (CO). Next, a chemical reaction occurs between the hydrogen and carbon monoxide with oxygen (O2) that is delivered by the micro gas engine via compressed air. Unused waste fuel from the extraction is delivered to the micro gas turbines along with heat and high pressure exhaust from the power generation. The micro gas turbine generates electricity as it rotates. Waste heat is also collected from the exhaust gas via a cogeneration system.
The hybrid power generation system is said to produce an output of 250 kW with a high generation efficiency of 55 percent, while the addition of the cogeneration system increases overall efficiency to 65 percent. The Motomachi Plant uses the electricity and waste heat from the system.
Toyota developed the system with help from its subsidiary Toyota Turbine and Systems Inc., and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Ltd for the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) as part of the “Technological Demonstration for targeting mass production of Pressurized Hybrid Power Generation System Consisting of Cylindrical Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) and a Micro Gas Turbine (MGT)”
The development of the hybrid power generation system is another step in the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 where the company aims for a goal of zero carbon emissions in its plants by 2050.
Nissan is also working on a new Bio Fuel Cell powertrain that can produce electricity from bio-ethanol or natural gas, which also uses SOFC to produce electricity.