Using Advanced Materials to Reduce CO2 Emissions
Carbon fiber and polymer materials for a cleaner future
Comprehensively developing materials and components for fuel cells
Manager, Technology Planning Section, Environment & Energy Development Center, Toray Industries, Inc.
The Toray Group is developing advanced materials to realize a cleaner, hydrogen-driven society, in which electricity generated from renewable solar and wind power is used to produce hydrogen, which is in turn converted to electricity on demand using fuel cells.
The release of the Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle in late 2014 ushered in the hydrogen age. The Mirai uses carbon fiber materials1 supplied by Toray. I am involved in developing the electrode substrate, which greatly impacts the performance of the fuel cell stack. Right now, we are working every day to improve performance and reduce costs, looking toward 2020 and beyond, when fuel cell vehicles are projected to make major inroads into the market.
We are also leveraging Toray’s strengths in polymer science to develop the electrolyte membranes that are at the heart of fuel cell stacks. Toray established Greenerity GmbH in Germany and has built a framework to comprehensively develop and assess everything from individual components and materials (including electrode substrates and electrolyte membranes) to complex processed products.2
Our aim is to see Toray’s materials used throughout a hydrogen-driven society, from the production of hydrogen to its transport, storage, and use (fuel cells), by conducting R&D that leverages the collective strengths of the Toray Group.
- 1 The three materials used in the Mirai are: thermoplastic carbon fiber composite for structural parts, carbon paper for the electrode substrate in the fuel cell stack, and high-strength carbon fiber for the compressed hydrogen gas tank.
- 2 Catalyst coated membrane (CCM), membrane electrode assembly (MEA).
The Toray Group played a significant role in developing the gas diffusion layer in the electrode substrate. This helped to increase the performance and reduce the size of the fuel cell stack (achieving the highest output density in the world) in the Mirai, which was the world’s first commercially available fuel cell vehicle. We look forward to further performance enhancements and cost reductions in the future.
Group Manager, MEGA Design Group, Fuel Cell System & Component Design Department, Fuel Cell System Engineering & Development Division, Toyota Motor Corporation
Fuel cells generate electrical energy through the reaction of oxygen with hydrogen, which is used as a medium for transporting and storing clean energy. At Greenerity, using advanced technologies that are the result of almost 20 years of development, we supply membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs), which are a critical component of fuel cells and water electrolyzers. Now, as a member of the Toray Group, we will help to build a hydrogen-driven world.
Managing Director, Greenerity GmbH
Saving time, reducing costs, and expending less energy and resources with high-speed molding technology
General Manager, Second Advanced Composites Technical Department, Toray Industries, Inc
Carbon fiber offers high strength and light weight, and is widely used today in aircraft and automobiles to increase fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. In aerospace, carbon fiber is being used in the latest aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380, as well as in the empennage of the first Japan-made passenger jet. In the automotive field, carbon fiber is used to reduce the weight of Toyota’s Mirai fuel cell vehicle, which has zero CO2 emissions, as well as luxury sports cars from European automakers.
The cost of carbon fiber was until now a barrier to using the material more extensively. To address the cost issue, the Toray Group developed a way to speed up the molding process using high-cycle resin transfer molding (RTM) technology that accomplishes in less than 10 minutes what used to take two and a half hours. The technology is being used to manufacture car parts, realizing shorter processing times and lower costs. The Group also developed carbon fiber reinforced thermo plastic (CFRTP) that enables mass production using rapid compression molding, to realize the world’s first use of CFRTP in the structural component of a mass production vehicle.
The Toray Group will continue to develop new processes that reduce material waste in production processes, in order to improve processes and expend less energy and resources.