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AHEAD launches Brunei-Japan hydrogen supply chain for power generation in Tokyo Bay


Project has maximum 210 mt/year hydrogen supply capacity

Hydrogen produced from processed gas at Brunei LNG

Transporting hydrogen at normal temperature, pressure

  • Author
  • Takeo Kumagai
  • Editor
  • Alisdair Bowles
  • Commodity
  • Natural Gas Petrochemicals Electric Power Oil Coal
  • Tags
  • Toluene Hydrogen petroleum CO2

Japan's Advanced Hydrogen Energy Chain Association for Technology Development, or AHEAD, has launched its pilot project to bring hydrogen from Brunei to Tokyo Bay for use as a power generation fuel, the world's first supply chain of foreign-origin hydrogen.

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The project uses the organic chemical hydride method to produce hydrogen by steam reforming processed gas from the Brunei LNG liquefaction process. The hydrogen is converted by hydrogenation reaction using toluene into methylcyclohexane (MCH), which is a liquid at ambient temperature and pressure, meaning existing facilities can be used for storage and transport.

The MCH is shipped to Tokyo Bay, where the hydrogen is extracted using a new dehydrogenation plant at the 70,000 b/d Keihin refinery in Tokyo Bay, operated by Toa Oil, a subsidiary of Idemitsu Kosan. Toluene from the process is then transported back to Brunei for re-use in the hydrogenation process.

MCH production in Brunei using toluene brought back from Tokyo Bay began on June 21.

"We have finally connected the Brunei-Japan hydrogenation supply chain," Takakazu Morimoto, president of AHEAD, told a webcast press conference June 25.

AHEAD comprises Japan's Chiyoda, Mitsubishi, Mitsui and Nippon Yusen Kaisha or NYK Line.

The project has a maximum 210 mt/year hydrogen supply capacity and expects to supply about 100 mt of hydrogen for power generation at the Mizue plant by the end of November, following the startup of supply on May 26, said an official with AHEAD on June 25.

The project supplies separated hydrogen from the dehydrogenation plant and blends it with byproduct gas for to fuel gas turbines at the Mizue power station inside the Keihin refinery with a subsidy from the state-owned New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, or NEDO.

"We are transporting hydrogen in normal temperature and pressure, and basically we can use existing facilities, which handle petroleum and others," said Morimoto.

"Through the execution and operation of the Brunei-Japan supply chain, we aim to prove the technology is ready for practical operations and intend to continuously collect various data and analyze it and make improvements for commercialization," Morimoto added.

The hydrogen supply started after the commencement of test runs at the dehydrogenation plant at the Keihin refinery in April after having received the maiden cargo of MCH on an ISO tank container in December, following the startup of the Brunei plant in September 2019.

In addition to the Brunei-Japan supply project, the CO2-free Hydrogen Energy Supply-chain Technology Research Association, or HySTRA, is running a pilot project over 2020-2021 with assistance from NEDO to demonstrate brown coal gasification and hydrogen refining at Latrobe Valley in Australia; hydrogen liquefaction and storage of liquefied hydrogen at Hastings; marine transportation of liquefied hydrogen from Australia to Japan and unloading of liquefied hydrogen in Japan.

HySTRA members are Iwatani, Shell Japan, Electric Power Development Co., or J-POWER, Marubeni, ENEOS, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, or "K" LINE.