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Toyota and public and private partners in Japan to trial renewable CO2-free hydrogen supply chain

Major corporate and public sector partners in Japan are launching an effort to test a full carbon-neutral hydrogen supply chain powered by renewable wind energy. The trials are planned to take place near the cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki in the Keihin coastal region.

On the public sector side, the project is being implemented by the Kanagawa Prefectural Government, Yokohama City, and Kawasaki City. The four private sector participants are Iwatani Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Toyota Turbine and Systems Inc. In addition, the project will be supported by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment.

While hydrogen is most commonly created through steam methane reforming, it can also be created from water through electrolysis. This requires electricity, still typically produced using fossil-fuel-burning power plants. Since the overall environmental benefit of hydrogen is only as strong as the method used to produce it, global research initiatives around the world are dedicated to developing large-scale carbon-neutral projects that use renewable energy to power hydrogen production.

Under this trial project, wind power will be used to turn water into oxygen and hydrogen, with the latter stored for use locally. Grid power will only be used for backup when absolutely necessary and excess renewable energy produced may even be sold to utility companies.

As plans currently stand, the project will involve:

  • A system to produce hydrogen by electrolysis using wind power
  • A system to optimize storage and transportation of hydrogen produced
  • Use of fuel cell forklifts
  • A hydrogen supply chain feasibility study (hydrogen price, CO2 reduction, etc.)
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The total project duration is expected to take place over four years. At this stage, the project partners are still discussing specifics. Implementation is set to begin from April 2016 onward.

A committee has been established, with Dr. Kenichiro Ota (Prof. Emeritus, Yokohama National University) and Dr. Yoji Uchiyama (Prof. Emeritus, University of Tsukuba) participating as academic experts. The committee will discuss the direction of the project, as well as establishing a project-wide communications framework and will determine issues that require further research after the trial has finished.

Changes to the trial’s plan and content may occur as a result of ongoing discussions between the project partners and the Ministry of the Environment.

Comments

HarveyD

More clean H2 produced, compressed and stored (27/7 year round) with REs will benefit future FCEVs and clean electricity generation over current BEVs with electricity from CPPs.

Major Highways could be equipped with H2 pipelines and distribution stations using existing low cost public right of ways.

Bob Wallace

And we could install 24 karat gold seats in toilets.

It's the cost....

SJC

You can look at the market, Tesla provides free super charging for some customers with additional chargers every year. What if the early automakers had provided gas stations in 1915?

It is not just cost but market perception. If automakers provide energy at or near cost, there is a positive perception. In this case the H2 is carbon free, this gives the auto maker increased status by doing their part.

DaveD

Or they could take that RE and power a BEV to go 3 times as far on the same energy :)

sd

Carbon-neutral hydrogen? What a crock of greenwash. OK, it can be done but it would be much more efficient to use the renewable electric power to cut down the use of coal-fired electric generation. Or in the case of Japan, just restart some of the idled nuclear plants.

HarveyD

Many posters seem to forget that the initial cost of a practical extended range, cold weather BEV, equipped with 120+ kWh battery pack, is as high if not higher than a 500 Km range FCEV equivalent.

Secondly, recharging a 120 kWh battery pack with the average grid energy creates loads of GHG, air, water and ground pollution of all kind.

Recharging a 120+ kWh pack will take 8 to 10 times longer than to refill an equivalent FCEV.

With $0.16+/kWh (and rising fast) energy from NPPs, the cost to recharge a 120+ kWh battery pack may be close to the future lower cost of clean stored H2 for an FCEV.

Thirdly, excess clean stored H2 can be used to generate electricity in huge quantities or as required. Storing electrons in huge quantities for extended periods is more of a challenge.

SJC

You might go twice as far on the same energy, but turning it into methanol with on car reformer would allow you to carry enough for an 800+ mile range.

electric-car-insider.com

@Harvey, what cars are equipped with 120k batteries?

@SJC, who is making a methanol reformer + file cell stack with sufficient power density to be competitive in a passenger cehicle?

SJC

That is no problem, Nuvera has been making reformers and stacks for years. Daimler had a stack with reformer on several versions all during the 90s. It has already been done.

DaveD

@Harvey, why would you need a 120kWh battery? Why do you keep letting oil, gas and hydrogen companies tell you that you need to have a 400 mile range in a car? Do YOU drive that much every day?

Stop being a tool for people like that.

dursun

greenwashing BS

electric-car-insider.com

@SJC, why are these not commercially available today (in a passenger car configuration)?

My reading is that the power density on those devices is very low.

I'd love to see it but it seems you would have another chicken and egg infrastructure problem.

Davemart

If someone can come up with the storage systems for renewables anywhere north of San Diego without recourse to hydrogen or other chemicals, please post it here with all the references and numbers.

Until then they are innumerate fantacists.

Of course that does not apply to nuclear power, but they aren't building that in the West.

Davemart

That was too harsh.s

It is however annoying that the sincere efforts of so many scientists are routinely dismissed without the least attempt to ensure that the supposed 'alternative' is in any way practical or even adds up.

Umpteen alternative pathways for hydrogen are documented on this blog, and many would use the same building blocks as those for hydrogen from surplus wind, so this is likely to be useful in any event.

Since none of the critics are in a position to say definitively that none of them will work, or even determine their likelihood of success, it is absurd to simply dismiss hydrogen and other chemical storage out of hand.

electric-car-insider.com

Synfuels hold great promise, though there are many challenges to solve before they become economically competitive absent a carbon taxx.

In ten years, possibly sooner, we'll probably know the outcome of the chemistry competition.

DaveD

We're seeing lots of announcements of large scale battery facilities for grid storage. It will be years before we'll see how the TCO of that compares to H2 as a storage medium but at least we'll have real world results now to compare.

SJC

eci

You would have to ask auto makers why they are not using methanol, reformers and PEMs. Daimler had the NECAR program for a decade, it was very successful.

Pearson, Propel and others who sell alternate fuels would not mind selling M100. Since you run on batteries most of the time and plug in, you may only need to fill up a few times per year.

electric-car-insider.com

@SJC
I Interpret the presence of ~500,000 EVs in the NA commercial market, and the limited availability of two hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (with all the attendant difficulty of the H2 infrastructure) to indicate that the viability of onboard reformed methanol is less near term than those nascent options.

No doubt there are companies willing to sell methanol. But are they willing to make the investment in a mass scale retail infrastructure and distribution system? We can look at the current state of the E85 market to get a hint of that answer. Those cars are on the road now.

SJC

E85 has been kept out of the market by the oil companies. Alternative fuel dealers will provide M100 if there are customers. It is MUCH easier to provide an M100 pump than an H2 dispenser.

HarveyD

The easiest and cheapest things in live are not always the best for humanity and other living species?

Yes, a PHEV with a small FC range extender could be a very clean solution for cold and hot weather areas?

HarveyD

@DaveD:

As you know, we have very cold weather and cities are very far apart in Canada. Many of us drive 2500+ Km to Florida or even more to other South USA places for the winter months.

People with BEVs with less than 500 Km range would need another car (ICEV or PHEV) with more range for many months of the year.

The only (current) practical-affordable INTERIM solution seems to be a 2016 Volt like PHEV?

SJC

The reformer heats up the stack for starting in cold weather. Mean while you are running on a large capacity battery pack.

CheeseEater88

The reason why M100 is not in the US is because of how you have to handle it... the general public would be at risk if they had to pump it into their own cars. Its corrosive, its absorbed throw the skin, and it can easily be fatal if mishandled.

I believe Synthetic fuels will come about soon... Iso-butanol will probably be first and other tailor made fuels will follow. Waste-> fuels is a solution to a lot of problems... it would follow that it will become very popular in the future.

I really see a pretty carbon neutral future... EVs FCEVs powered by renewable sources and ICEs burning renewable fuels can all be in a fairly sustainable future.

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