Japanese energy company ENEOS and plant engineer Chiyoda will build a facility that manufactures hydrogen without carbon dioxide emissions at one-third the current cost, a breakthrough in the nation’s push toward decarbonization. Credit: Handout.

Hydrogen, which can drive cars, trains, boats, planes and turbines in power plants without generating CO2, is vital for decarbonization.

Unfortunately, production costs remain high.

Currently, hydrogen on the Japanese market costs about $10 per kilogram.

Two Japanese companies, ENEOS and Chiyoda, aim to change that — in a major breakthrough, they have discovered a method that enables the electrolysis of water and toluene simultaneously, rather than through separate processes, to form methylcyclohexane (MCH), Gadget Tendency reported.

Utilizing this patented electrolysis technology, they plan to build a plant that will produce hydrogen without carbon dioxide emissions and at just one third of the current cost of hydrogen production.

The goal of the enterprise is to reduce the price of hydrogen to about $3 per kilogram by 2030, and over time to $2. ENEOS and Chiyoda are considering Australia and other regions as candidates for a plant in 2030.

This simplification of the process also cuts equipment investment in half.

Liquid MCH will be supplied at ambient temperature — a big advantage — to power plants and other facilities where hydrogen will be produced from it for energy.

This is much more cost effective than delivering hydrogen, which must be transported at -253 ° C in a special container.

The partners already have the technology to produce limited quantities of MCH and will now work on boosting capacity by using bigger electrodes to develop 500kw equipment by fiscal 2025.

They contend that the power needed for electrolysis will be supplied from renewable energy sources; Australia provides such energy at low costs.

Installing electrolysis equipment and a storage tank requires roughly 1 sq. kilometer of land, bringing the total investment to about $3.6 billion.

And for a solar energy farm to be built alongside the tank and equipment, another 64 sq. kilometer lot will be necessary, says ENEOS.

Such a technology is not only twice reduces the cost of building a fuel production plant, but also three times reduces the cost of a kilogram of hydrogen.

According to Bloomberg, producing green hydrogen costs about $3 to $6 per kilogram in Germany.

What is the advantage of hydrogen?

For one thing, it burns — hot and clean. Replacing the fossil fuels now used in furnaces that reach 1,500 degrees C (2,732 degrees F) with hydrogen gas could make a big dent in the 20% of global carbon dioxide emissions that now come from industry, Bloomberg reported.

In steelmaking, hydrogen could replace the coal that’s now used not only for heat but to purify iron ore. The byproduct is water vapor rather than CO2.

And while batteries currently dominate the field of electric vehicles, some companies are betting that hydrogen-powered fuel cells will be a better choice than batteries for heavy vehicles, such as trucks, ships and potentially even airplanes, Bloomberg reported.

The Japanese government put a goal to use in the country to 3 million tons of hydrogen by 2030. Approximately 15% of this volume should have to “green” hydrogen.

The enterprise will cover Japan’s needs in hydrogen by almost 10%.

In energy terms, the performance of such an enterprise will be comparable to the power of a nuclear reactor.

Sources: Gadget Tendency, World Industrial Reporter, 24HTECH, 4YouDaily.com, Bloomberg