Yanmar to use Toyota Mirai fuel cells for boats
Japanese diesel engine specialist, Yanmar, a big name in marine applications, has signed a memorandum of understanding with carmaker Toyota to use its fuel cell technology of the Mirai for hydrogen-powered boats. Yanmar’s goal is to realize an easily installable marine fuel cell system with an increased range for boats.
In a press release, Yanmar states that it will first install the Mirai fuel cell system, including the hydrogen tanks used in the car, in its own boat to start a demonstration field test by the end of this year. “Furthermore, the company plans to expand the technology for a variety of applications and deployments.”
2015 research project
Yanmar already participated from 2015 to 2018 in a test of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered boat in a research project for the development of guidelines for the safety of hydrogen fuel cell-powered boats, an initiative of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT).
The 60 kW maritime fuel cell system prototype used in that project was developed by Yanmar and Toyota with modules from Canadian fuel cell specialist Ballard Power Systems Inc. Now the collaboration with Toyota is concentrating on marine applications of Toyota fuel cell technology.
First compact diesel engine in 1933
Founded in 1912 in Osaka, Japan, Yanmar claims it was the “first ever to succeed in making a compact diesel engine of a practical size in 1933”. Since then, diesel technology was the core business for the company, specializing in marine diesel engines for pleasure boats and commercial ships, agricultural machines, construction equipment, and power generators.
Yanmar is already offering electric boat propulsion systems, but these are fed by diesel generators that are commonly used in the maritime world. By using the Toyota technology, the latter could be deployed rapidly.
Opportunity for Toyota
For Toyota, it’s another opportunity to start mass-producing its fuel cell technology, as the system is also used in commercial ‘road’ vehicle manufacturers like Portuguese bus builder, Caetanobus, among others. Toyota provided itself 100 hydrogen buses to the city of Tokyo to be used initially for the 2020 Olympic Games, which were postponed due to the corona crisis until next year.
With its commercial vehicle subsidiary, Hino Motors, Toyota is working on a heavy-duty fuel cell truck based on the next generation Mirai. With two of the Mirai’s fuel cell stacks, the 12 meters long and 25 ton heavy Hino Profia FR1AWHG will have an estimated cruising range of 600 km.
Already in May 2018, Toyota announced that it would sell “at least 30 000” hydrogen cars every year after 2020. So far, Toyota only built 3 000 to 3 500 Mirai a year. Japan announced last year it has the ambition to be one of the forerunners in the domain of hydrogen. It wants to see the total hydrogen car fleet grow to more than 200 000 by 2025.