Kawasaki Heavy Industries unveiled its liquid hydrogen (LH2) generation system in November, the first domestic manufacturer in Japan to do so.

The system has a capacity of five metric tons per day (tpd), with Kawasaki aiming to commercialise the system next year (2016).

Kawasaki is also developing a hydrogen gas turbine for power generation for potentially huge consumption of hydrogen and is planning to establish an integrated service system for demand and supply.

The experimental LH2 system is installed at the hydrogen technology demonstration centre inside Kawasaki’s Harima Plant, in southwest Japan. It comprises a hydrogen liquefying unit with a hydrogen receiving tank of 50m3 and two liquid hydrogen tanks of 70m3, for a production capacity of approximately five tpd.

The liquefaction in the system employs heat exchange, for which liquid hydrogen is used as a refrigerant. In an ordinary turbine a lubricant is coated between shafts and bearing to control friction during high speed revolution. To avoid using lubricant which might mix into the hydrogen and render it impure, Kawasaki developed a new technology to make shafts floated from the bearing take advantage of the floating power of hydrogen – and succeeded in turning the turbine without the use of a lubricant.

Further demonstrative experiments will be made in the plant from now onwards, with more improvements implemented in the turbine technology as the company aims to receive orders in Japan from 2016. With the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020 in mind, Kawasaki is planning on the establishment of an overseas business model – intending to import foreign, low-cost LH2 into Japan. The company has plans for a 2500m3 LH2 transport vessel and an LH2 generation plant of 10 tpd.