Wednesday, October 23, 2013

No. 794: The age of hydrogen is coming (October 23, 2013)

Hydrogen is growing its presence as the next energy source, and the age of hydrogen is coming. Toyota and Honda are scheduled to launch fuel-cell vehicles that use hydrogen as fuel in Japan, the U.S., and Europe in 2015. Technology for mass production, safe storage, and safe transport of hydrogen is also developing fast. Toyota’s trial fuel-cell vehicle has a travel distance of 650 km per refill that is three times longer travel distance of an electric vehicle per charge. It traveled 320 km from Nagoya to Tokyo without refill. A fuel-cell vehicle will be put on the market for five million yen in 2015, and a total of two million fuel-cell vehicles will supposedly be traveling in Japan in 2025.

 Let's drive a Toyota's fuel-cell vehicle

Hydrogen can be recovered from water, and it is environmentally-friendly and inexhaustible. It can be mass produced in chemical plants. In addition, when cost of renewable energy decreases considerably in the future, it will be possible to take out hydrogen from water by electrolysis. Nikkei BP Clean Tech Institute predicts that the hydrogen-related infrastructure market will be 37,000 billion yen in 2030, of which 7,000 billion yen is the fuel-cell vehicle market. There will be 3,500,000 fuel-cell vehicles traveling in the world, and the related infrastructure including hydrogen station will be 22,000 billion yen. The Japanese government subsidizes the construction cost of hydrogen stations, and plans to build 100 hydrogen stations in 2015 and increase the number of hydrogen stations to 1,000 in 2025.

Hydrogen is inexhaustile

JX Nippon Oil and Energy will install hydrogen production equipment in its oil refineries after 2016 and construct a system to distribute hydrogen across the country. A huge amount of hydrogen is generated in an oil refinery, but it is technically very hard to eliminate impurities. With its self-developed separating film technology, the company plans to produce hydrogen of nearly 100% purity. 


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