Toyota releases more than 5,000 hydrogen-powered car patents

6 Jan 2015

Theoretical physicist and futurist Dr Michio Kaku discusses a hydrogen future during Toyota's CES 2015 press conference. Image via Toyota

Toyota is looking to initiate the next revolution in car fuel development after it announced the release of 5,680 patents relating to the development of hydrogen-fuelled cars royalty free.

The Japanese automotive company is seemingly following the philanthropic model set out by Elon Musk and his range of Tesla electric cars. Last June, Tesla released the patents to the company’s electric-car technology.

While issues surrounding the development of the infrastructure of electric car-charging points continue, and the length of time required to fill a car battery, the development of hydrogen fuel could see an entire tank filled in about five minutes, with the only emission being harmless water vapour, yet a range of as much as 482km.

Last November, Toyota cited autumn 2015 for its first hydrogen-powered car, the Mirai, with a reserved estimate of selling around 700 cars per year.

According to Toyota, the majority of the patents now available for anyone to use royalty free related to fuel cell system control technology (3,350) followed by 1,970 patents for fuel cell stack technology and 290 patents for high-pressure hydrogen tanks.

The hitch is that companies looking to use the patents must develop the technology between now and 2020 and most negotiate with Toyota with regard to specific usage plans.

The remaining 70 patents relate to the operation and installation of hydrogen fuelling stations that will be freely available to use indefinitely, no doubt to develop the fledgling number of hydrogen fuelling stations which currently stand at 19 in California.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic