TOKYO -- Chiyoda Corp. and other leading Japanese corporations are looking to import hydrogen from Brunei for power generation starting in 2020, using a chain of processes designed to slash the usually large cost of transporting the gas.
Hydrogen does not emit any carbon dioxide when burned, meaning its increased use could help slow global warming. But it is expensive to produce and transport, which has hindered its adoption as a fuel. Increased hydrogen consumption by mixing it into natural gas for electricity generation could lead to lower costs. The higher the concentration of hydrogen, the lower CO2 emissions at a power plant.
Mitsubishi currently works with the Brunei government to produce liquefied natural gas. Chiyoda will extract hydrogen from this gas at a new facility to be constructed locally.
The hydrogen will then be turned into a compound that stays liquid at room temperature, compressing it to 0.2% of its volume as a gas, and shipped to Japan by Nippon Yusen. It will be converted back into hydrogen upon arrival before being mixed into natural gas that will be burned at a power plant operated by a Showa Shell Sekiyu affiliate in Kawasaki. The entire project is expected to cost up to 10 billion yen ($89.2 million).
Some European countries are already using hydrogen as a fuel source. Chiyoda and others aim to lower the cost of hydrogen-fueled power in Japan to 17 yen or less per kilowatt-hour by the late 2020s. In comparison, gas-fueled power costs somewhere in the mid-teens.
Separately, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and energy company Iwatani aim to start importing hydrogen from Australia. But their plans involve liquefying the gas by cooling it to minus 253 C, which will require a special ship to transport. The scheme by Chiyoda and its partners will likely cost less, since they will use mechanisms already in place to transport chemical materials.