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JAPANESE HYDROGEN FUEL PRODUCTION TAKES A STEP FORWARD

JAPANESE HYDROGEN FUEL PRODUCTION TAKES A STEP FORWARD

Tuesday, August 10, 2021 

Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) and its partners Chiyoda Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsui have signed an agreement with Eneos Corporation to supply hydrogen produced in Brunei for use in Eneoss refinery decarbonisation trials.

The hydrogen will be delivered in the form of a saturated hydrocarbon called methylcyclohexane (MCH), supplied by the Advanced Hydrogen Energy Chain Association for Technology Development (AHEAD), an organisation that was jointly established by the partners in July 2017. NYK believes that hydrogen has considerable potential as a clean fuel and aill play a key role in future efforts to decarbonise. Unfortunately, before a hydrogen-based society can be fully  reapised, two significant technical hurdles need to be cleared. One is developing a stable, large-scale, and long-distance supply network that is capable of linking suppliers and consumers in different parts of the world. The other is securing reliable, long-term storage.

Composed of toluene and hydrogen, MCH is a liquid under normal temperature and atmospheric pressure, meaning that it can be both stored and transported using oil refineries, chemical tankers and other infrastructure that already exists to service the petroleum and petrochemicals industries. It is also an organic compound from which hydrogen can be extracted when necessary. AHEAD’s aim is to use MCH to help address these supply-and-storage challenges.

Backed by funding from NEDO1, AHEAD successfully completed trials of the world’s first international shipment of MCH and stable extraction of its hydrogen in 2020, when it delivered MCH produced in Brunei to Japan. For the Eneos trials, which are being funded by Japan’s consortium for resilient oil supply (CROS), AHEAD will ship the MCH using chemicals tankers and other carriers3.

At present, most of the industrial-use hydrogen in Japan is consumed during the desulphurisation process at petroleum refineries. This is so-called grey hydrogen, which is derived from fossil fuels in processes that emit CO2. However, replacing it with CO2-free hydrogen derived from MCH can help to reduce industrial CO2 emissions. For that reason, AHEAD’s supply of MCH for the Eneos trials promises to be a significant step towards using this organic compound more broadly as a means of transporting and storing hydrogen.

The partners are looking forward to future collaborations in a variety of ways that will help to realise hydrogen-fuelled societies.

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