Mitsui & Co., Ltd. , Toray Industries, Inc. and Hexagon Lincoln Inc., a subsidiary of Hexagon Composites ASA ("Hexagon Composites" Head Office; Aalesund, Norway) entered into a joint development agreement on 25 April 2016 to conduct a business viability study of a proposed joint venture to manufacture and sell carbon fiber reinforced high-pressure hydrogen cylinders for vehicles in Japan ("the Plan").
The aim of the Plan is to manufacture high-pressure hydrogen carbon fiber cylinders for fuel cell vehicles in the Japanese market, which is world-leading in the transition to a hydrogen-based society. The Plan would integrate and leverage the high-pressure cylinder manufacturing technology of Hexagon Composites, the world's leading manufacturer of carbon fiber-reinforced high-pressure cylinders with plastic liners ("composite cylinders"), the comprehensive capabilities of Mitsui, including its customer assets and marketing know-how, and the capacity of Toray to supply competitive, high-quality carbon fiber and develop new technologies.
Action to tackle global warming has become an urgent international priority. The development of lighter parts and materials to reduce energy consumption by transportation equipment, especially in motor vehicles, is seen as an important approach to the solution of this problem. The market for lightweight materials, such as carbon fiber, is expected to expand rapidly.
Hexagon Lincoln has as a track record in mass-production of composite cylinders for use in a wide range of natural gas vehicles, as well as for gas transportation and storage. Capitalizing on that mass-production track record, Hexagon Lincoln has developed high-pressure hydrogen cylinders as functional components for fuel cell vehicles, which are fueled by hydrogen and produce no harmful emissions when operating. With Japanese motor vehicle manufacturers planning to mass-produce tens of thousands of fuel cell vehicles by the time of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, the market for high-pressure hydrogen cylinders as key components for these vehicles is expected to expand.
Hexagon Lincoln, Mitsui, and Toray are motivated to contribute to the Japanese government plans to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics the starting point for the creation of a hydrogen society by commencing domestic production of high-pressure hydrogen cylinders as functional components for these fuel cell vehicles.