Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No. 827: Technological innovation reduces hydrogen price to support the spread of fuel-cell vehicles (January 15, 2014)

Technological innovation reduces hydrogen price radically to make it as low as gasoline price. JX Holdings developed a technology to transport hydrogen in safe and in volume. The company will start to establish hydrogen distribution networks using the new technology toward 2020. It is expected that the distribution cost of hydrogen will be reduced by 30% to make it as cheap as gasoline.

The new technology will allow JX Nippon and Oil Energy, the core company of JX Holdings, to produce hydrogen and liquefy it by dissolving it in toluene, and allow trailers to transport liquefied hydrogen to hydrogen stations at normal temperature and at normal pressure. At present, gaseous hydrogen is compressed at high pressure and transported by special trailers. Liquefying hydrogen eliminates the necessity of high-intensity carbon fiber cylinders and equipment to prevent explosion. In addition, trailers used to transport gasoline and tanks used to store gasoline will be diverted for the transportation and storage of liquefied hydrogen, and the construction cost of a hydrogen station will be reduced half of the current level to 200 million yen. At the same time, it will be possible to double the transportation amount by reducing the cubic volume.

The cost to produce and distribute hydrogen is currently 145 yen per cubic mete, and it will supposedly go down below 100 yen when a low cost distribution system based on the new technology is established. Increasing the number of hydrogen stations and to increase hydrogen production is expected to reduce the cost to 60 yen in the future. JX Holdings has now 11,100 affiliated gas stations, about one third of the total gas stations in Japan. The company plans to increase the number of hydrogen station to 40 by 2015 and spread the hydrogen distribution network extensively after 2020. Chiyoda is also developing a technology to liquefy hydrogen by toluene. The competition of technological innovation to spread fuel-cell vehicles is heating up.   

      A hydrogn station exhibited in Tokyo Motor Show 2013

 The future to be realized by hydrogen stations

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