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Asahi Kasei starts operation of multi-module hydrogen pilot plant in Kawasaki; milestone towards realization of 100 MW-class alkaline-water electrolysis systems

The Japanese technology company Asahi Kasei is further accelerating its hydrogen business activities. On 13 May, company representatives and partners including the Japanese government celebrated the official opening of a new hydrogen pilot plant in Kawasaki, Japan. Operational start of this commercial-scale facility was in March 2024. The trial operation of four 0.8 MW modules is another milestone towards the realization of a commercial multi-module 100 MW-class alkaline water electrolysis system for green hydrogen production.

According to the Hydrogen Council, cumulative global installed capacity of water electrolyzers forecasted to reach approximately 300 GW by 2030. To meet this increasing demand, Asahi Kasei is currently developing the Aqualyzer alkaline water electrolyzer optimized for the production of green hydrogen.

In order to test this new system under realistic conditions in a multi-module setup, the company started constructing a pilot plant at its manufacturing site in Kawasaki in November 2022. The new facility started operation in March 2024.


Alkaline water electrolysis pilot test equipment

For the production of green hydrogen, electrolysis systems need to respond to fluctuating power supply from renewable energy sources such as wind or solar. In the pilot plant, four 0.8 MW Aqualyzer modules are being operated under realistic conditions, including operation during maintenance and low power supply during nighttime. In addition, the equipment is designed to simulate fluctuating power input from solar or wind power.

By utilizing the data obtained from these trials, Asahi Kasei will further optimize the equipment design, operation methods, and control technology of the electrolysis system. With its multi-module approach, Asahi Kasei aims to combine up to ten modules with a capacity of 10 MW each, enabling commercial large-scale electrolysis systems with a capacity of up to 100 MW.

Asahi Kasei’s hydrogen business is based on more than four decades of large-scale and long-term experience in the field of chlor-alkali electrolysis. Aiming for a total sales volume of ¥100 billion (€600 million) by 2030, the company plans to start commercial business activities for its alkaline water electrolyzers in 2025.

Construction and operation of the pilot plant is supported by the “Green Innovation Fund” of Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).



One disadvantage of an electric only supply system, so far as it can be done at all, is that it entails simply scrapping the existing NG supply system and writing it off.

That is a darn expensive way of doing things, so perhaps talk of the cost of upgrading NG supply to use hydrogen needs to be put in the context of the alternative total write off.

Dismissals of using hydrogen in the home also rely on its supposed inefficiencies, based on the most inefficient possible way of doing it, replacing combustion natural gas with combusting hydrogen.

Incidentally, there is little or no doubt that that solution is technically possible:


' A government-funded hydrogen heating pilot project in German homes has been deemed a ‘complete success’ after making it through winter without any problems.'

But there are better ways of doing things which are way more efficient.

That is through a combination of heat pumps, fuel cells, and perhaps this new tech for heating using hydrogen without combustion:


' Newly formed technology company HYTING has developed a safe, highly efficient, carbon-free forced-air heating system (patents-pending) that uses a unique catalytic process to turn hydrogen and oxygen from air into heat. Unlike systems that rely on hydrogen combustion to generate heat, HYTING’s technology does not produce any CO2, NOx, or particulate emissions – the only by-product is water.

The process is also inherently safe, as it does not use flammable concentrations of hydrogen at any operating point. The hydrogen is supplied at the same low pressures typical of natural gas supplies – around 1.5bar – so costly and energy-intensive compression and storage is not used. And unlike other technologies which rely on hydrogen, such as fuel cells, HYTING’s heating system works on commonly available hydrogen sources: high-purity grades are not necessary.'

Note that the article's critique there that fuel cells require very pure hydrogen only applies to some types of them, although SOFC and HTPEM are at an earlier stage of development.

' HYTING’s technology can work alongside heat pumps to form a hybrid and completely CO2-free heating system that can overcome these shortcomings and ensure effective heating under all conditions. This also optimises installation and running costs because the heat pump can be sized at the power rating where it is most energy-efficient, with the HYTING technology supplementing total heating output on cold days and taking care of peak loads. The scalability and flexibility engineered into the technology from day one also means that it can function as a back-up heating source, if needed, or as a standalone system.'

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