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Toyota Powers Up 1.1-Megawatt Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator

Paul Nastu

Toyota Motor Sales, USA has activated a new 1.1-megawatt hydrogen fuel cell generator on the Torrance headquarters campus.  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.

“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,” says Bob Daly, TMS senior vice president.

At 1.1 MW, the fuel cell system on average provides enough power for about 765 homes, twice the capacity of Toyota’s existing solar panel system on campus.  It is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 3.3 million pounds during summer peak period operating hours.

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.

Electricity generated by the fuel cell fuel is expected to save Toyota approximately $130,000 a year in reduced energy purchased from Southern California Edison.

Additional project funding was provided by Sustainable Development Technology Canada and California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program.



4 comments on “Toyota Powers Up 1.1-Megawatt Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator

  1. In 1874, Jules Verne predicated that hydrogen will be the fuel of the future. He wrote “I believe that water will one day be employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen which constitute it, used singly or together, will furnish an inexhuatible source of heat and light, of an intensity of which coal is not capable”.

  2. What has prevented widespread use of PEM fuel cells for stationary applications is the lack of direct pipeline hydrogen distribution infrastructure. It does exist today, but only in very limited locations.

    What we see in Europe is mixing of hydrogen with natural gas to take advantage of existing pipeline infrastructure, but this approach is not suitable for direct PEM fuel cell utilization. A mixture of hydrogen in natural gas in the range of 10-15% is suitable in any combustion process that works for natural gas alone, but this does not apply to this particular fuel cell technology.

    It is notable however than stationary fuel cell growth is seen using other technologies that “reform” the natural gas in the stationary fuel cell solution itself. However, these sorts of fuel cells take days to come online and are only suitable for full time primary power solutions vs. this “peak offload” approach used in this Toyota implementation.

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