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Fukushima launching power-to-gas hydrogen project with MCH as hydrogen carrier; supply center by 2016

Fukushima and the Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute (FREA) have launched a power-to-has project with a view to making the prefecture a hydrogen supply center by as early as 2016, according to a report in The Japan Times, via Fukushima Minpo. The project will test and refine a model of hydrogen-supply infrastructure, which would then be used in creating a functioning supply center.

The project is a collaboration between the prefecture and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), the parent of FREA. AIST established FREA in April 2014 to promote R&D into renewable energy. FREA has two basic missions: the promotion of R&D into renewable energy, which is open to the world; and making a contribution to industrial clusters and reconstruction.

In 2013, with financial support from Fukushima prefecture, AIST started researching technologies to handle hydrogen in liquid form under ambient temperature and pressure by combining it with toluene (C6H5CH3) to create methylcyclohexane (MCH: C6H11CH3), which serves as a liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC). MCH has 6.1 wt% of gravimetric hydrogen content and 47% of volumetric content theoretically. (Earlier post.)

Source: FREA. Click to enlarge.

(In June 2013, Japan-based Chiyoda Corporation announced that a demonstration plant located in its Koyasu Office and Research Park successfully achieved expected performance using a liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) technology.)

MCH can be transported with a chemical tanker the as same as toluene. On the demand site, hydrogen is generated from MCH by a dehydrogenation reaction, and toluene is recovered for the recycle use.

AIST has developed a generator that can extract hydrogen from the MHC and obtain heat and power from it. The power is then delivered to public facilities.

AIST, which is focusing on establishing viable technologies for the mass storage and transportation of hydrogen, is using the prefecture as the testing ground, according to the report. After initial deployment, the participants plan to expand the project sites to include municipalities in the prefecture that are still undergoing reconstruction following the nuclear disaster.

The Fukushima government has set a goal of having the prefecture’s entire energy needs covered by renewables by 2040 or so.



Slowly the elements for a hydrogen economy are being put in place.

Nothing like as elegant or efficient as basing it on a lot of nuclear with some solar, but if they are not building it that is the way it is.


Ammonia has some 17.6 wt% hydrogen, and doesn't require transport of the carrier back to the source.

At 6.1% H2, moving 1 kg of H2 requires the transport of 16.4 kg of carrier out, and the return of 15.4 kg of spent carrier.  This compares to less than 3 kg of hydrocarbon one-way for the same energy.  The overhead of this scheme, both in material and in energy cost, is going to be rather high.  Using ammonia would require a one-way trip with less than 6 kg carried.



Any idea why they haven't gone the ammonia route?
Is it handling difficulties, or what?


Yeah, I'd like an answer to that one myself.


Hurry-up to invent and commercialize a fuel and engine that is more powerful and cheaper and smaller than my actual dodge neon plus gasoline. Im sick and tire of having to pay big money for my fuel and car and oil change. In the future things should be more powerful, long lasting and cheaper, that's what I call breakthrough technologies. If not I will keep my neon till the end of time but having to stay on gasoline make me sad but a hybrid or bev or hydrogen fuelcell are even worst. Sometime I feel that we are still in the middle age with so much low technologies like we see everywhere all the time.


You want my speculation?  The Haber-Bosch process is old hat, no fun for chemists, and not a Japanese invention.  Turning toluene into methylcyclohexane and back... now THERE is something your grad students can do their PhD dissertations on.


Maybe ammonia was avoided because it is so corrosive. And the shift per mole of fluid w. toluene/MCH is 6 hydrogen atoms, not 4 with NH4 (or NH3? give or take dimerization losses by way of creating dangerous hydrazine, or the complexities of handling ammoniate complexes which probably have been considered to handle hydrogen storage and release).

Toluene, cyclohexane and similar compounds are the "old reliables" or organic chemistry so I am not too surprised.


Ammonia can be contained in mild steel.  Hydrocarbons are somewhat less fussy but not enough to make up for an almost 3:1 disadvantage in hydrogen mass-fraction.


Yeah, well try releasing all the H from ammonia and then prevent the nitrogen atoms from dimerizing back to atmospheric N2. A hassle. So would the accidental introduction of oyygen, which creates nitric acid at these pressures. There is a lot more to both processes then the proprietors are letting on.

For the record, this article did not mention tanker shipment and storage of the hydrogen compound intermediate. Some years ago, Japanese proposed doing that in a methanol/formic acid cycle that required no combustion. Wonder what became of that.


Why do you care if the nitrogen re-forms N2?

The sodium amide cycle cracks ammonia with metallic sodium to sodium amide and H2, then thermally cracks the sodium amide to re-create metallic Na.

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