Moving e mobile emergency power station. (Image courtesy of Toyota.)
Toyota and Honda have teamed up to build an emergency power station on wheels. The Moving e is a hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in a bus frame, capable of delivering electricity to disaster areas.Â
The Moving e is a variation of Toyotaâ€™s fuel cell electric bus, outfitted with a pair of Honda Power Exporter 9000s, 36 Honda Mobile Power Packs and 20 LiB-AID E500 power sources. The bus itself carries enough hydrogen to deliver up to 490 kWh of electricity, depending on the driving distance from its home base to the disaster area. Assuming a 100 km (62 mi) one-way trip, the busâ€™s fuel cells can supply up to 240 kWh and still have enough for the return home. Since itâ€™s emission free, the unit and its portable power sources can be used inside of buildings such as evacuation centers.
The Moving e has seating areas for disaster victims. (Image courtesy of Toyota.)
The Moving eâ€™s fuel cells deliver 300 VDC to the Power Exporter 9000, which conditions the DC voltage and sends it through an inverter, producing 100- and 200-volt AC outputs. Its AC outlets can power devices directly as well as recharge the battery-based portable power sources.Â
Moving e recharging portable power sources via two Power Exporter 9000s. (Image courtesy of Toyota.)
The portable power sources can be distributed as needed, brought back to the bus for recharging, and redeployed. Each Honda LiB-AID E500 has a battery with a 300 Wh capacity, two 5-volt USB ports, a built-in sine wave inverter and two 100-volt, 5-Amp AC outlets. The Mobile Power Pack has a beefier capacity, holding a full kilowatt-hour worth of energy.
Mobile Power Pack and LiB-AID E500. (Image courtesy of Toyota.)
The portable power sources hold a combined total of 42 kWhâ€”enough to power a dozen laptops, phone chargers, and LED lamps for several days. Depending on the distance between the bus depot and the emergency location, and taking into account the typical Li-ion battery charging efficiency, the Moving e could fully recharge these units five to 10 times before using all of its available hydrogen. While the portable battery-operated units donâ€™t deliver enough juice to run a full-size refrigerator, they can power a portable refrigerator for a day or two. If the bus is dispatched to an emergency shelter, the fuel cells could keep a small walk-in cooler operational for at least a week while still having enough hydrogen to recharge the portable units a few times. Â
No Renewable Sources?
Hydrogen fuel cells are clean sources of electricity, but Iâ€™m wondering why they didnâ€™t go the extra kilometer and add some renewable generation to the mixâ€”similar to X3 Energyâ€™s portable emergency power systems. I wouldnâ€™t bother with the small wind turbine on a mast, as it probably wouldnâ€™t deliver enough power to justify the added weight, but why not cover the bus in solar panels? Assuming the Moving eâ€™s dimensions are similar to Toyotaâ€™s Sora fuel cell bus, weâ€™re looking at about 26 square meters of rooftop space. Thatâ€™s enough room to comfortably fit a 5 kW solar array. These donâ€™t need to be heavy panels mounted to the roof; instead, they can be embedded into the vehicleâ€™s body itself, like those on the Sono solar-assisted EV. On a nice day, solar could add 25 kWh of energy to its capacityâ€”roughly 10 percent more than the 240 kWh it can deliver on its longest trip.Â
When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012, power outages were exacerbated by fuel shortages, rendering many backup generators useless after a day or so. A few residents had solar panels and allowed their neighbors to charge cell phones and other portable devices. A Moving e would have brought relief to many of the affected areas, and adding solar panels to the vehicle would extend its capacity. As climate change brings stronger and more frequent superstorms, weâ€™d better be prepared with an array of emergency power sources. This fuel cell EV, loaded with portable battery-powered generators, looks like a good delivery mechanism.Â