Sunday, June 2, 2013

No. 725: A hydrogen power plant is no longer a dream (June 3, 2013)

Chiyoda Corp. developed a technology necessary to put hydrogen power generation to practical use. The company has already been having business negotiations with several energy-related companies both at home and abroad, and the world’s first hydrogen power plant is expected to start operation in a few years at the earliest. Hydrogen power generation does not emit carbon dioxide. On top of that, Japan is self-sufficient in hydrogen. The company plans to apply the new technology to the provision of hydrogen fuel for fuel-cell electric vehicles.

Hydrogen can be used as fuel for gas turbine power generation, but it is hard to store and transport hydrogen because hydrogen easily catches fire besides being bulky. To use hydrogen as fuel for power generation, it is necessary to store a fixed amount of hydrogen at lower than minus 253 degrees centigrade by way of liquefaction. Chiyoda Corp. developed equipment that allows storage and transportation of liquefied hydrogen at normal temperature and subsequently extract only hydrogen efficiently. The equipment can provide hydrogen to a small-scale generation plant with an output of 100,000 kW. It will be priced at around 10 billon yen.

Hydrogen can be stored at normal temperature should it be mixed with toluene, but it was very hard to extract only hydrogen from the mixture. The equipment built by Chiyoda Corp. can extract only hydrogen at such high efficiency of more than 98% with the help of its originally-developed catalytic agent. Hydrogen power generation costs less than oil-fired power generation, but it costs 80% higher than gas-fired power generation.  

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