Hydrogen viewed as key to energy needs after Fukushima disaster.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, an experimental project got under way here on April 6 2015 to generate hydrogen from wind power as a step toward achieving a zero-emission hydrogen-powered society.
The Environment Ministry and construction giant Toda Corp. conducted the experiment at a wind power producing facility in waters about 1 kilometer off Kabashima island, one of the Goto Islands in Nagasaki Prefecture.
“We demonstrated that we can convert wind power into hydrogen and transport it,” said Iku Sato, Toda deputy manager. “If we can trim the costs of manufacturing hydrogen with technological innovation, it will serve to expand the introduction of the renewable energy.”
Using large wind turbines measuring 80 meters in diameter, the offshore power plant has an output of two megawatts of electricity. The plant transmits wind-generated electricity through a cable running along the seabed to Kabashima island, where Kyushu Electric Co.’s power grid supplies 100 households on the island.
Surplus electricity generated from the wind power plant is being used in the project to generate hydrogen.
Hydrogen, which has garnered attention with the emergence of fuel-cell vehicles, has the downside of producing carbon dioxide in its conventional manufacturing process, which mainly uses fossil fuels such as natural gas and petroleum. Fuel-cell automobiles, however, do not emit carbon dioxide in their emissions.
The project uses the plant's excess wind-generated electricity to extract hydrogen from water, a technology known as power to gas (P2G).
P2G is a method of manufacturing hydrogen without producing carbon dioxide, and the central government envisions a hydrogen energy society by 2040 by way of P2G technologies.
The hydrogen manufactured in the project will be stored in a liquid form called Methylcyclohexane, which is obtained by the reaction between hydrogen and toluene. For use, the hydrogen will be extracted from Methylcyclohexane by using heat and a catalyst.
Project trials held April 6 used equipment for manufacturing, storing and using hydrogen that was transported aboard ships in the form of Methylcyclohexane to remote islands. After being shipped to the remote sites, technicians successfully extracted the hydrogen from the Methylcyclohexane. The experiments will continue until March 2016.
One drawback of wind-power generation is its unstable output, which is dependent on favorable weather conditions. Its surplus electricity, however, can be converted into hydrogen for storage, and the hydrogen can be converted into electricity during times of increased energy needs, which will help provide a stable supply of power.
Similar experiments on hydrogen production are also currently being conducted in Europe.
Reflecting growing demand for alternative forms of energy that are clean and efficient, automakers are set to sell their first commercial fuel-cell vehicles, powered by hydrogen right now.
According to The Nikkei Asian Review today, Toyota is just opening showroom for fuel cell car in Tokyo, Japan.
The Japanese automaker said Monday it will open a showroom April 17 2015 for the Mirai fuel cell vehicle. Every Friday, people will have an opportunity to drive one around the block.
Toyota began selling the hydrogen Mirai in December 2014, and the number of orders is believed to have reached 2,500, mainly from government agencies, businesses and wealthy individuals.
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