Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No. 223: Technology to increase the purity of hydrogen used in petroleum refinery (January 5, 2011)

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will launch a government-private sector joint research project to create high-purity hydrogen from hydrogen used in petroleum refinery for the battery of fuel-cell vehicles. To prepare for the substantial spread of fuel-cell vehicles in 2015, the ministry plans to stabilize the supply of high-purity hydrogen. At the same time, oil companies can find another source of revenue as oil demand has been dwindling. The project is three year long starting 2011, and it will cover from technology development to the substantiative experiment. The investment amount is about 500 million yen, half of which will be subsidized. The ministry will invite public participation for this project. Oil distributors produce hydrogen to resolve sulfur content in the process of petroleum refinery. As the purity of hydrogen produced in the oil refinery is about 90%, it is necessary to increase the purity of hydrogen to 99.99% almost without impurities for the battery to be use of fuel-cell vehicles. The ministry and oil companies plan to develop the technology to produce high-purity hydrogen using a separation membrane and build dedicated equipment. The competition for business with fuel-cell vehicles is growing harder.

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