The companies take a big gulp of hydrogen to make the convenience stores cleaner.
Toyota and the 7-Eleven convenience store chain are partnering in Japan to test hydrogen fuel cell delivery trucks and possibly fuel cell power generators. The goal is to study how to reduce CO2 emissions and energy conservation.
The fuel cell delivery trucks will feature a refrigeration unit for keeping the food cold. The stores would also get stationary rechargeable batteries for recharging plug-in vehicles, and these sites would function as an emergency power source during disasters. At stores with hydrogen refueling stations, an automotive fuel cell might function as a stationary hydrogen generator. According to Toyota, this part of the plan is still “under consideration.”
While it might seem odd for Toyota to partner with a company that’s generally associated with Big Gulps and Slurpees, the 7-Eleven chain has a massive footprint in Japan. As of July 31, 2017, the company has 19,638 stores in the country, including 2,528 in Tokyo. For comparison, the firm boasts 8,454 shops in the United States, 1,868 in Mexico, and 652 in Canada – a total still fewer than in Japan.
Toyota is pushing hard to find commercial applications for fuel cells. For example, the company also wants to sell 100 hydrogen-fueled buses in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The people movers pack 600 liters of hydrogen and can manage 124 miles (200 kilometers) on a tank.
In the United States, the company is conducting a feasibility study for a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered semi truck.
In other commercial applications of fuel cells, UPS has a prototype delivery truck that runs on hydrogen for a test in Sacramento, California. The powertrain features a 45-kilowatt-hour battery and 32-kilowatt fuel cell range extender, and the setup offers a 125-mile (201-km) range.