The hybrids, advanced FCHV-adv models, are on loan by Toyota through a two-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. NREL plans to use the cars to advance its hydrogen fueling infrastructure, vehicle performance, and renewable hydrogen performance research.
By working with Toyota, NREL will be on the cutting edge of fuel cell hybrid designs and will be testing and evaluating designs proposed by the major automakers. In 2015, Toyota has plans to introduce a fuel cell hybrid sedan to the US commercial market, and the NREL’s research will help determine if there are any shortfalls to the vehicle’s design before it goes to production.
The FCHV-adv models are fueled with renewable hydrogen made from wind and solar – using wind turbines and photovoltaic arrays to power electrolyzer stacks that split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
NREL also plans to increase public awareness about new automotive technology by showcasing vehicles at a variety of events and hopes to get the public excited about fuel cell hybrid sedans in preparation for Toyota’s 2015 release.
The design of Toyota’s FCHV-adv is based on the Toyota Highlander mid-size SUV, but the FCHV-adv contains a fuel cell system with light-weight-high-pressure hydrogen gas tanks, a nickel metal hydride battery, an electric motor, and a power control unit that determines the split of power from the battery or the fuel cell stack to power the vehicle.
According to the 2009 document, Evaluation of Range Estimates for Toyota FCHV-adv, the car should get an estimated 68.3 miles per gallon and emit no harmful emissions. The only byproduct of the car is water vapor.