New project uses wind energy to produce hydrogen fuel

April 9, 2015 0 By Alicia Moore
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Japanese project demonstrates the benefits of renewable hydrogen production

An experimental energy project is taking place off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan. The project comes from the Japanese Environment Ministry and Toda Corp., a large construction organization, and involves using offshore wind energy to produce hydrogen fuel. According to Toda Corp., the project has already successfully demonstrated that it can generate enough electrical power that can be used to produce hydrogen, and this hydrogen can be transported to other parts of Japan if needed.

Surplus electricity generated by the project is used to produce hydrogen fuel

The project makes use of large wind turbines that produce approximately 2 megawatts of electrical power. This electricity is then funneled to Kabashima Island, where Kyushu Electric uses it to power some 100 homes. Any surplus electricity that is generated by these turbines is used to generate hydrogen fuel. By using renewable energy, such as wind power, this hydrogen production method is environmentally friendly, producing no harmful emissions. Conventional hydrogen production processes generate a significant amount of carbon emissions, largely because they use natural gas.

Hydrogen is stored in a liquid form until it is needed

wind energy - Wind Turbines offshoreThe hydrogen fuel produced by the project is stored in a liquid form known as methylcyclohecane, which is made through the combination of hydrogen and toluene. When the hydrogen is needed, a catalyst is used to extract the hydrogen from the methylcyclohexane. The hydrogen can be used by a fuel cell to produce electrical power. These energy systems can also produce heat, making them quite valuable for residential purposes.

Renewable energy projects could make hydrogen fuel more environmentally friendly

Hydrogen fuel is also becoming quite prominent in the transportation sector. Automakers are bringing their fuel cell vehicles to Japan, which need hydrogen fuel in order to operate. The Japanese government has been investing in the development of these vehicles, as well as the establishment of a hydrogen fuel infrastructure that can support them. Toda Corp. believes that using wind energy to produce hydrogen will aid in Japan’s plans to build a comprehensive, environmentally friendly, hydrogen infrastructure.