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Japan Inc Wants to Become a Hydrogen Superpower

By July 23, 2021 3   min read  (543 words)

July 23, 2021 |

Fuel Cells Works, Japan Inc Wants to Become a Hydrogen Superpower

To succeed, it must focus on the not so glamorous industrial uses of the gas

In 2016 Tokyo’s at that time, Governor Masuzoe predicted that the Olympic Games held by the Japanese capital in 2020 would “leave the hydrogen society as its heritage,” just as the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games left the Shinkansen.

Later that year, Mr. Masuzoe resigned due to an expense scandal. But his dream remains alive while Tokyo prepares for the late opening ceremony of the pandemic on July 23.

The Olympic torch burned hydrogen for the first time (don’t worry about the colorless flames). The people involved will be carried by about 500 cars and 100 buses, which are manufactured by Toyota and run on fuel cells, a portable power plant that consumes hydrogen and emits only water vapor. Kawasaki King Skyfront Tokyu Ray Hotel derives its energy from hydrogen generated from waste plastic.

Sure, everything was nifty. But it’s not as important as the lightest gas. Fuel cell vehicles are miles away from the mass market, despite 20 years of effort by Toyota and other Japanese companies. The lack of refueling infrastructure, the difficulty of storing in small cars, and the persistently high cost of fuel cells all oppose the major role of hydrogen in decarbonized transport.

Still, Japan is challenging the superpower of hydrogen. Behind the scenes, the company is pursuing unattractive applications in heavy industry and other difficult-to-decarbonize areas. The government is throwing eggs at them.

For example, in June, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) We have made a plan to reduce carbon emissions from steelmaking by shifting to “directly reduced iron” (directly reduced iron).DRI). This process uses significantly less energy and can replace the climate-friendly components of industrial chemistry required (such as carbon monoxide). Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Will spare billions of dollars in the industry to commercialize the use of hydrogen in blast furnaces by 2030. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a conglomerate, is building a zero-carbon steel mill in Austria.Nippon Steel DRI Technology that will be used commercially by 2030.

Japanese companies are also embarking on the production of raw materials. The easiest way to make hydrogen is to remove it from methane. Each molecule of methane contains four atoms of hydrogen and one atom of carbon. This process, known as “modification,” is cheap but dirty because the by-product is planetary heated carbon. Hydrogen can be made cleanly from ammonia and water, but this is more expensive. To reduce costs ENEOSJapan’s largest oil refiner recently announced plans to build a huge plant by 2030.It uses an electrolytic process to reduce the cost of making clean H2 From H2Two-thirds of O.

In July, Marubeni, a Japanese industrial conglomerate, signed an agreement with Australian investment company Providence Asset Group to develop 30 solar farms that combine renewable energy with batteries and hydrogen storage. They aim to finally export green hydrogen to Japan. Kawasaki Heavy Industries has recently received regulatory approval to build the world’s largest liquefied hydrogen cargo ship. It’s not as eye-catching as the Shinkansen. But maybe it’s even more important.

This article was published in the Printed Business section under the heading “Burning clean”.

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