Hydrogen highway (Japan)

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Japan's hydrogen highway is a network of hydrogen filling stations placed along roadsides that provide fuel for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCV). An HFCV is a vehicle that uses a fuel cell to convert hydrogen energy into electrical energy. Fuel cell technology is what allowed for the hydrogen highway to be built, part of the Japan Hydrogen Fuel Cell Project. This technology has an efficiency of 48% which will reduce wasted energy. The hydrogen that is used for fuel can be made using fossil or renewable resources. The hydrogen highway allows for more HFCVs to be produced, which will reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases while saving energy.[1] Twelve stations are already in service and the JHFC plans to reach 100 fueling stations by 2015.[2]

Japanese hydrogen powered cars[edit]

The creation of this hydrogen highway sparked the creation of many HFCVs by the Japanese car companies. Although the HFCVs are not created in mass quantities yet car companies like Honda, Nissan, Mazda, and Toyota are coming out with new ideas that combine the features hybrid vehicles with the features of a Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV). The main goal of these new FCVs is to convert hydrogen into electricity while only emitting water vapor.Japanese car companies will not start mass-producing FCV until the creation of a Hydrogen supply infrastructure network. This network's purpose would be to make the idea of hydrogen powered vehicles more appealing to the public. This infrastructure network should be done by 2015, which is when Japanese automakers plan to launch their FCVs into the market.[3]


At the end of 2012 there where 17 hydrogen stations, 19 new stations are expected to be installed by 2015.,[4] the Government expects to add up to 100 hydrogen stations under a budget of 460 million dollars covering 50% of the installation costs with the last ones operational in 2015.[5][6] JX Energy expects to install 40 stations by 2015.[7] Toho Gas and Iwatani Corp[8] expect to install an additional 20 stations.[9] Toyota Tsusho and Air Liquide made a JV to build 2 hydrogen stations to be ready by 2015.[10] A "task force" led by Yuriko Koike, Japan's former environment minister, and supported by the country's Liberal Democratic Party was set up to guide the process.[11]


The first two hydrogen fueling stations were built for the JHFC's Expo, to promote the usage of hydrogen fuel, in March 2005. The fuel stations were displayed in two different sides in the city of Seto (Seto-North and Seto-South). This Expo for introducing hydrogen fuel cell technology proved effective as over 1,300 kg of fuel was dispensed from both stations.[12]

Creators of the JHFC[edit]

The members from the government branch are

  • Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
  • Agency of Natural Resources and Energy
  • Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT)

Member from a semi-governmental organization

  • New Energy and Industrial Technology Development

Member of Public Research

  • National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology

Member of Private Firm

  • Fuel Cell Commercialization Conference of Japan

JHFC objectives[edit]

  • Energy-Saving Impact
    • Show the public how efficient FCVs are
    • Show how emissions and CO2 gases will be reduced
  • Raise Public Awareness about FCVs

Reasons for Japan's investment in fuel cells[edit]

The two motivations for the research and development of fuel cells were because of the energy policy and the industrial policy.

  • Energy policy
    • Create/Find a new source of renewable energy
    • Stay technologically competitive with other companies
      • Many countries are seeing how efficient Fuel Cells are which is why Japan seeks to expand their investments in the Fuel Cell industry
  • Environmental Issues
    • Slow the “climate change”
      • Japan, like the rest of the world, seeks to reduce green house gas emissions by using "safer" forms of energy
  • Industrial policy
    • Maintain a competitive economy through advanced technology
      • Fuel cells are profitable, being well invested in such and industry will give Japan an advantage economically speaking[1]


The cost of these Hydrogen gas stations is not cheap so there are many car and oil companies that are supporting this transition. There are 13 main companies that are paying for the new source of fuel.[13]

  • Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC)
  • Nissan Motor Company
  • Honda Motor Company
  • JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation
  • Idemitsu Kosan Company
  • Iwatani Corporation
  • Osaka Gas Company
  • Cosmo Oil Company
  • Saibu Gas Company
  • Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K.
  • Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation
  • Tokyo Gas Company
  • Toho Gas Company