Monday, 12 January 2015

CES 2015: Toyota Opens Patents on Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology


Toyota
In a strong hope of a developed future of Hydrogen fuel cell technology being an alternative fuel source, the Japanese car maker Toyota has promised to offer around six thousand patents (related to the technology), which is owned by them, as royalty-free. Last Tuesday, the Japanese car maker Toyota made the much awaited announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015, which was held in Las Vegas.

Summary 

The pledge made by Toyota includes 5,680 Hydrogen fuel cell related patents, including the technologies that have been used in developing the company’s latest innovation Toyota Mirai. Approximately, 1,970 patents are related to fuel cell stacks, 290 patents are related to high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 patents are associated with the software used to control fuel cell system and rest of the 70 patents are related to hydrogen production.

Plan

The infrastructure required to support the electric cars has started to rise across many countries, even though the re-fuelling stations for hydrogen fuel cell powered cars are hard to find. Therefore the step taken by the Japanese car maker makes it all the more significant, by opening their patents for other companies to own and in the process boost up the places that the hydrogen fuel cell cars are starting to fill.

The announcement made by the company reflects their positive approach in supporting the development of infrastructure of the Hydrogen powered society.

Previously on many occasions, the Japanese Automaker has tried their hand with this initiative of developing hydrogen powered society. One such example is the developmental set up in California. Toyota made huge investments in improving the facilities of Hydrogen fuel cell technology in California and in the North Eastern states of America. Last year, the company extended their support towards First Element Fuels with a loan grant of $7.3 million covering around 19 different hydrogen fuelling stations of California.

The Japanese car making company welcomes the interested companies over negotiable individual contracts for the usage of related patents. However it must be notified that the pledge made by the company on Tuesday covers only the patents related to the fuel cell vehicles which will remain available until 2020 ends, whereas the patents that are related to the production of hydrogen and its supply are kept open over indefinite period of time.

There is a small catch in this pledge although, which is that the Japanese car making company expects the interested companies to share similar technology related information and make their patents related to fuel cell as open. But make no mistake thinking it to be a pre-requisite condition to be filled before approaching for patent negotiations.

Future of this technology: 

The company strongly believes that the first generation of Hydrogen powered vehicles, that are going to get unveiled in coming few years, requires good amount of collaboration between automakers/ car makers, state authorities, power generating firms and the family of researchers. The Consumer Electronics Show 2015 was probably the best platform to be had for such an effort to get initiated and for a whistle to be blown for the start of its on-field implementation.

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