The Story of Sakichi Toyoda
Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries Corporation, possessed a strong ambition to contribute to society from his days as a youth. He had devoted his 63-year-long life to invention.
The year 2014 saw the world's first release to the public of a fuel cell vehicle (FCV), Toyota Motor Corporation's "MIRAI." The MIRAI uses a range of technologies developed by Toyota Industries, including air compressors and hydrogen circulation pumps.
Fuel cell vehicles (FCV) use hydrogen as a fuel source—this is the ultimate in clean energy. Hydrogen is in the spotlight as the "ultimate energy source," given that it emits no CO2, has an inexhaustible supply on earth, and can be stored in a tank. Fuel cells use a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in order to generate electricity. Toyota Industries is also contributing to making the hydrogen society a reality, by providing technologies that support Toyota Motor Corporation's MIRAI FCV, which is driven with motors using electricity generated by a fuel cell.
The air compressor developed by Toyota Industries sucks in air (oxygen) from the atmosphere, compresses this, and then supplies it to the fuel cell (FC) stack. Toyota Industries employs the world's first six-lobe helical root type rotor using technologies acquired in the development of automotive air-conditioners, and this provides high-efficiency, compressed air at all speeds, from idling through to acceleration.
Additionally, using various sound-dampening structures in air passages reduces unpleasant sounds during vehicle acceleration, reducing turbidity, and helping create a sound that gives a sense of acceleration.
We have created the world's first compressor employing a 6-lobe helical root type rotor. This can compress air efficiently at all speeds, from during low-flow conditions when idling through to high flow during acceleration, which contributes to increasing vehicle performance and range capabilities.
The hydrogen circulation pump developed by Toyota Industries recirculates hydrogen that did not undergo a chemical reaction in the fuel cell stack during electricity generation, thus increasing fuel efficiency.
The FC stack, a unit to generate electricity, produces electricity more efficiently in a wet condition. For this reason, a humidifier was installed in a conventional fuel cell system, making size reductions difficult. Circulating water generated there with the hydrogen helped in the creation of the first fuel cell stack without a humidifier.
Optimizing the pump and efficiently circulating the hydrogen that did not undergo a chemical reaction in the FC resulted in the creation of the first fuel cell stack without a humidifier.
Incorporating the compressor into the fuel cell stack improves motor cooling as well as reducing size. Moreover, a quieter system means this is the first fuel cell system that can be installed under the floor.
Toyota Industries is working not only on technologies that support the creation of fuel cell vehicles, but also on developing the FC lift trucks of the future, for use in logistics—initiatives such as these will help to make the hydrogen society a reality.