Toyota comes up with a compact, self-contained hydrogen fuel station

Published 05 April 2019

Convenient hydrogen fuel supply throughout the country has taken a step closer to reality with a compact, self-contained hydrogen fuel station being trialled at Toyota's Motomachi factory in Japan.

SimpleFuel™1 is a small, simplified hydrogen station that draws electricity from the plant’s solar panels for low-carbon hydrogen production using a water electrolysis process. The hydrogen is then compressed, pressurised and supplied to Motomachi’s fleet of fuel cell (FC) forklifts.

Each station can produce up to 99Nm3/day (approx. 8.8kg/day) of hydrogen each day, enough to fuel seven or eight FC forklifts. Its compact dimensions allow it to be installed in small spaces, making it suitable for refuelling the forklifts within the plant.

A hydrogen station has been operating on-site at Motomachi since March 2018, supporting an increasing number of FC forklifts. By introducing the extra fuelling provision, Toyota anticipates rising demand for hydrogen and also aims to reduce the factory’s carbon emissions.

To reduce CO2 emissions from its plants, Toyota intends to replace its conventional forklifts with a new generation of machines powered by hydrogen fuel cells. This process began at the Motomachi plant with an initial two FC forklifts in 2017, followed by another 20 in 2018. With carbon-reducing subsidy support from Japan’s environment ministry. It has been possible to adopt SimpleFuel™ and 50 further FC forklifts.

Obviously, the wider implication is a means of supplying hydrogen fuel cell road vehicles such a Toyota's Mirai , Hyundai's Nexo and Honda's FCX Clarity, making them a practical, environmentally friendly proposition for more owners and drivers. 

Unlike Electric Cars, no PMTs, CO, CO2 or NOx are created either in producing the fuel or in running the vehicles.

The only emission is water.

In line with the goals of the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, Toyota has been using hydrogen energy to develop and implement new technologies to make progress towards eliminating CO2 emissions from its manufacturing plants. The use of SimpleFuel™ and FC forklifts at Motomachi forms part of this strategy.


Hydrogen production capacity (max.) 99Nm3/day (8.8 kg/day)
Storage volume 72.18Nm3
Hydrogen purity 99.97%
Hydrogen filling pressure 35MPa
Hydrogen generation method Alkaline water electrolysis method

1SimpleFuel™ is a product of and jointly manufactured by IVYS Energy Solutions and PDC Machines in the U.S.

Toyota Simple Fuel Hydrogen Station 2 


Engineer Andy    on 5 April 2019

Forgive me, but that's hardly 'compact'. And it can only fuel 7-8 forklifts per day, which are smaller than cars with smaller fuel space. Imagine how large the fuelling station would have to be to replace a standard filling station, capacble of providing hundreds of larger vehicles with full tanks of hydrogen per day, plus how many solar panels that would need.

They're a LONG way off from replacing petrol and diesel by that method, and creting hydrogen via other methods uses far more fossil fuels and non-green energy than you get in the hydrogen you create.

Edited by Engineer Andy on 05/04/2019 at 12:53

Engineer Andy    on 5 April 2019

Indeed - don't get me wrong, it's a great step forward, but it's that they still have a long way to go to service the mass market.

Sadly, I think some 'green tech' firms like to market these as 'solutions' to our pollution ills about 25+ years too soon, mainly in order to get financially lucrative government grants and funding (well, they've gotta pay for all those nice flashy cars and houses with something...). At present, they are niche market products for rich people/large businesses only.

Captain-Cretin    on 6 April 2019

£65k now, how much if/when they start mass production?

Also, how much is this Hydrogen maker, and how much would it retail for in mass production?

I would think fuel station use wouldnt be the ideal, mains powered, faster converters would be needed; but if they want to give me one, and a FCEV car to go with it, I will do a long term trial for them!!

As for the "25 years too early" quip, this is 25 years too LATE.

This tech was discussed and technology existed for implementing it back in the late 1970's.

Future Ecology and Alternative Fuel Sources, Birmingham University.

Engineer Andy    on 6 April 2019

What I mean by 25 years too early is that it won't be available for mass market for that long. BTW, just because the tech was 'discussed and existed' in the 1970s doesn't mean it was well developed.

You could say the same with computers back then, and there's more computing power in your smartphone than a room full of computers back then. Admitedly if the money was there to develop the tech since, we might've progressed quite a bit further, but we are where we are.

My general point was that this unit only produces enough hydrogen for a few cars per day and requires A LOT of electricty to operate. Imagine having to scale that up to serve hundreds of cars per day at a filling station and produce the huge amount of electricity to power all the devices. The place would be HUGE and require acres of space for PV panels.

pab107    on 7 April 2019

In the long term with significant improvements in solar/wind, this would be interesting to replace traditional utilities and their distribution for residential as well as vehicular power. It is so much greener than current EVs too. I’d look forward to disconnecting from the grid for gas and electricity, which would contribute to a more viable business model... eventually.

AnaestheticD    on 9 April 2019

PV panels would definitely power the hydrolysis of water, but to power a commercial hydrolysis unit capable of supplying hydrogen to hundreds of cars each and every day, the power required would mean that there would have to be acres and acres of PV panels created to operate the hydrolysis unit.

Realistically, it would require huge acreage of PV panels AND large numbers of large commercial wind turbines, allied with huge battery storage to generate and store enough power to create a commercial facility.

It could happen...........eventually.

Edited by AnaestheticD on 09/04/2019 at 01:28

Engineer Andy    on 5 April 2019

A) creAting. Blimey! One typo and I'm an idiot.

B) I AM an engineer, and a mechanical building services engineer at that, which means I know a fair bit about green tech.

C) I never said we should not be going for this tech AT ALL, but said quite plainly that it's still a niche tech unless and until the production of the hydrogen is done in a green way and on a mass market basis, and a huge machine that prodcues enough to fuel a handful of car A DAY isn't mass market, especially as it requires so much electrical enegery to power it (where's the solar panels going to go).

Yes, the tech will improve, but that's still some way off, AS I SAID.


Edited by Engineer Andy on 05/04/2019 at 18:37

Alex Maddyson    on 16 March 2022

I think that hydrogen for fuel can be obtained in different ways. Depending on how harmless they are, the final product is called "yellow" or "green". Yellow hydrogen is the one that needs atomic energy. Green is the one for which renewable resources are used. It is this hydrogen that international organizations are betting on, more details about the automotive development of such stations can be found here

The most harmless way is electrolysis, that is, the extraction of hydrogen from water using an electric current. So far, it is not as profitable as the others (for example, steam reforming of methane and natural gas). But the problem can be solved if the chain is made closed - to start up the electricity that is released in hydrogen fuel cells to produce new hydrogen.

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