NYK: World’s 1st global hydrogen supply chain demonstration project starts

  • Business developments & projects

The world’s first international demonstration operation to transport hydrogen has begun.

The project members are conducting a demonstration operation for the construction of an international hydrogen supply chain.

Launched by the Advanced Hydrogen Energy Chain Association for Technology Development (AHEAD), the project is subsidized by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

Participants in the project are Japanese shipping major Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) together with its affiliate Ocean Network Express (ONE). Apart from NYK, members of AHEAD include Chiyoda Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsui & Co.

Specifically, Chiyoda’s SPERA Hydrogen Technology utilizes the organic chemical hydride method. In the supply country, hydrogen chemically fixed to toluene is converted into methylcyclohexane (MCH), a liquid at ambient temperature and pressure, through a hydrogenation reaction for storage and transport. In the demand country, hydrogen is extracted from the MCH through a dehydrogenation reaction and supplied as hydrogen gas.

Methylcyclohexane (MCH) produced in Brunei Darussalam has already been transported to Japan by ship, separated into hydrogen and toluene at a dehydrogenation plant located on the Kawasaki city waterfront, with hydrogen being supplied to a gas turbine at the Mizue power station owned by Toa Oil Co. Ltd.

The move is said to represent another step towards commercialization of the international hydrogen supply chain that consists of a series of processes from the production of MCH in Brunei to ocean transport to the separation of hydrogen from MCH in Japan, as the use of hydrogen shipped from abroad as fuel for power generation will create a substantial addition to hydrogen demand, which is expected to rise in the future. The supply of hydrogen to gas turbines marks the first consumption of foreign-produced hydrogen for power generation in Japan, leaving a significant footprint towards mass consumption of hydrogen in the electricity sector.

At this time, the process of transporting back the toluene separated by dehydrogenation from Japan to Brunei Darussalam and binding the toluene again with hydrogen has started. This would complete the hydrogen supply chain and would be the beginning of a circular stable operation.

It is planned that 210 tons per/year at full operation — equivalent to fully filling a 40,000 fuel cell vehile — will be transported.

NYK transporting hydrogen

As informed, NYK will provide sea transportation and nautical data, cooperate with its subsidiary Yusen Logistics, which is charge of forwarding business and collaborate with Ocean Network Express (ONE), which is in charge of sea transportation using an ISO tank container.

In the future, NYK will not only transport hydrogen but will also work to realize a hydrogen society, including the development of technology for utilizing hydrogen as a marine fuel.

The company said it will also seek to accurately grasp business opportunities related to hydrogen, which is said to be the ultimate clean energy and be involved in the entire supply chain.

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