Industrial gases major Air Liquide will work alongside Japan’s leading energy company ENEOS Corporation (ENEOS) to accelerate the development of low-carbon hydrogen in Japan and advance the energy transition, having signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
With an aim to span the entire value chain of low-carbon hydrogen from upstream to downstream, the partnership will involve the study of both carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) and electrolysis technologies for the production of low-carbon hydrogen.
In addition to exploring the potential collaboration in the development of a global liquid hydrogen supply chain to serve the Japanese market from abroad, the partners are targeting the development of various downstream initiatives.
This includes building a hydrogen refuelling station infrastructure to advance hydrogen mobility in Japan and collaborating in innovation along the hydrogen supply chain.
Commenting on the partnership, Armelle Levieux, member of Air Liquide’s Executive Committee and Vice President of Innovation supervising Hydrogen activities, emphasised the partners’ desire to combine the strengths of ‘two leaders in their field’.
“As such, it can significantly contribute to the development of hydrogen as a key element of decarbonisation of industry and mobility in Japan. This partnership is yet another sign that Air Liquide is accelerating in the energy transition.”
The collaboration aligns with Air Liquide’s strategic plan ADVANCE, which focuses on four key priorities of financial performance, decarbonisation, technological innovation and actively engaging with stakeholders, customers and shareholders.
Announced in March last year, the plan includes a commitment from the company that half of its industrial investments will be dedicated to the energy transition, with hydrogen set to play a decisive part in its business.
This ties in with ENEOS’ ‘Long-Term Vision to 2040’, which takes on the challenge of achieving both a stable supply of energy and materials and the realisation of a carbon neutral society.
“We believe the collaboration with Air Liquide, which is one of the world’s largest industrial gas companies, will also serve as a basis for leading energy transition and continue to support energy supply in Japan in a carbon neutral society,” said Tomohide Miyata, Representative Director, Executive Vice President at ENEOS.
“ENEOS is currently considering MCH (methylcyclohexane) as our main hydrogen carrier, but through this MOU, we also pursue the exploration of liquefied hydrogen in the future to contribute to the formation of a decarbonised society.”
A type of hydrocarbon, MCH has gained attention as a potential hydrogen carrier due to a range of favourable characteristics. This includes its ability to release hydrogen through a dehydrogenation reaction, where it is converted into toluene and hydrogen gas.
This reaction is reversible, allowing for the storage and transport of hydrogen in a liquid form, which is more efficient and safer than handling gaseous hydrogen.
Equipped with a high energy density, MCH is an efficient medium for storing and transporting energy and can potentially be integrated into the existing fuel infrastructure with minimal modifications.
Japan’s hydrogen potential
According to the country’s Basic Hydrogen Strategy, Japan plans to invest 15 trillion yen ($107.5bn) over the next 15 years to supply the country with hydrogen.
Having initially called for hydrogen supply in the country to reach three million tonnes annually by 2030 from two million tonnes now, Japan’s government revised its target earlier this year to boost hydrogen supply to 12m tonnes a year by 2040.
By 2050, Japan aims for around 20m tonnes when it expected the global hydrogen market to generate $2.5 trillion in annual revenue.
The plan also set a target for companies affiliated with Japan domestically and abroad to have a total of 15GW (gigawatts) of electrolyser capacity by 2030 from less than one gigawatt now.