The Advanced Hydrogen Energy Chain Association for Technology Development (AHEAD) will supply hydrogen produced in Brunei for energy company, ENEOS Corporation (ENEOS) to use in its refinery decarbonisation trials.

AHEAD, a joint organisation established in July 2017, comprises several partners, including Chiyoda Corporation, Mitsubishi, Mitsui & Co, and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (the ‘Partners’).

The organisation will see the hydrogen delivered via a saturated hydrocarbon known as methylcyclohexane (MCH). With its ‘clean energy’ status, hydrogen emits no carbon dioxide (CO2) and is being investigated on a global scale by multiple industries as a method to reduce carbon emissions.

Using MCH, AHEAD is able to bypass existing supply-and-storage challenges, as MCH, composed of toluene and hydrogen, is a liquid under normal temperature and atmospheric pressure. This allows for storage and transportation using oil refineries, chemical tankers and other existing infrastructure.

Through dehydrogenation, gaseous hydrogen can be catalytically extracted from MCH. This process also involves the recycling of toluene – a byproduct – as a raw material for the production of MCH.

Initial trials of the world’s first international shipment, from Brunei to Japan, of MCH and stable extraction of its hydrogen were completed in 2020 and was funded by NEDO (The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation). Backed by Japan’s consortium for resilient oil supply (CROS), the ENEOS trials will see AHEAD shipping the MCH using chemicals tankers and other carriers.

This step towards the mass-utilisation of CO2-free ‘green’ hydrogen is expected to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of hydrogen derived from fossil fuels, or ‘grey’ hydrogen, in Japan.

The partners look to collaborate further in an effort to contribute towards a hydrogen-powered society.