On the 10th of September the Hydrogen Information Town (HIT) research group was started by four companies consisting of Japan Blue Energy, Daiwa Lease, Toyota Tsusho and Mitsui Chemicals.

Japan Blue Energy is engaged in production and sales of plants to generate power by gasification of biomass and recovery of hydrogen, together with consulting services. The research group has begun a verification test to generate hydrogen gas from “sewage sludge” in order to develop a resource recycling network to promote the local production for local consumption.

The group aims to produce CO2 –free hydrogen from sewage sludge instead of fossil fuel, taking advantage of the “Blue Tower Technology” owned by Japan Blue Energy for hydrogen gasification in use of biomass.

Two demonstration plants of the “Blue Tower Technology” were constructed in Shimane Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefecture. The experiment at this time is carried out using Izumo Blue Tower which was established at the second demonstration plant in Shimane Prefecture.

The biggest feature of the “Blue Tower Technology” is the employment of alumina balls (ceramic heat carrier) as a thermal catalyst for gasification. In the heat separator, bio-gas is generated when a biomass material like wooden chips or sewage sludge comes into contact with lots of alumina balls heated up to a high temperature. Furthermore, in the reformer, the bio-gas touches alumina balls and vapor at a higher temperature and purifies biomass hydrogen through vapor reforming and other reactions. Circulation of alumina balls not only carries heat to every part, but also enables the user to control and remove the tar which may become the main cause of machine problems.