Oct. 2018

The “Hydrogen Road”Has Arrived at
the Demonstration Stage:
A Step Forward in Realizing
a Hydrogen-Based Society


At the heart of the co-generation system on Kobe's Port Island (photo top) is this hydrogen gas turbine, which drives the power generator, and using waste heat, operates the boiler.
  • Production
  • Storage, Transportation
  • Utilization


Collaborative Hydrogen Production Project
with the Australian Government
Economical and Environmental Benefits of Utilizing Brown Coal (Unused Resource) Being Recognized

  • Yasushi Yoshino
    General Manager,
    Melbourne Office
    Hydrogen Engineering
    Australia Pty Ltd. (HEA)

The Latrobe Valley, located 150 km east of Melbourne, Australia, has brown coal seams that stretch 14 km, and the total amount of energy stored there is estimated to be equivalent to 240 years of gross power generation in Japan.

In this area, J-POWER is leading the gasification of brown coal as part of a NEDO pilot project (“NEDO portion”). Separate from the NEDO portion, the construction of a pilot plant subsidized by the Australian Government and the Victoria State Government is about to begin (“Australian portion”). The plant is composed of facilities required for processing after the production of hydrogen gas, such as hydrogen gas refining, production of liquefied hydrogen (LH2), its storage, and handling (loading/unloading).
The Australian portion is led by a consortium of five companies, namely Kawasaki, Iwatani, J-POWER, Marubeni, and AGL, a leading energy firm in Australia. Hydrogen Engineering Australia Pty Ltd. (HEA), Kawasaki's subsidiary, is the main contractor for this project with the Australian Government.

The project manager, Yasushi Yoshino, General Manager of the HEA Melbourne Office, comments, “Technological challenges for the Australian portion have already been resolved, and we are now focusing on gaining the understanding of the local communities with regard to how commercialization of hydrogen energy can contribute to Australia, economically and environmentally.”

A scene from the launch ceremony of the pilot project in April 2018, organized by the Australian Government and the Victoria State Government. Local communities welcomed the launch, with a view that Australia will be contributing to the conservation of the global environment through this first-of-its-kind system.

Local response to the pilot project is favorable, and the State of Victoria is welcoming it, saying that this first-of-its-kind project can lead the way to a hydrogen-based society, and that a few hundred jobs are expected to be created as a result. Meanwhile, because the environmental awareness of the Australian population is very high, people are paying close attention to the environmental effects of utilizing brown coal, a fossil fuel, and how CO2 generated during the production phase of hydrogen will be treated.

Brown coal (lignite) is a geologically young coal with a high moisture content (50 to 60%) and when it dries, it can catch fire naturally. This makes it difficult to export and it has thus been used solely for local power generation. However, Yoshino says, “Utilization of brown coal as a raw material for hydrogen energy offsets these shortcomings. A value judgment that this project can create economic added-value from this unused resource (i.e., brown coal) is being established.”
With regard to CO2 generated during hydrogen production using brown coal, the HEA is coordinating with the CarbonNet Project led by the Australian Government, which is investigating the potential for establishing a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) network.

For the Australian portion, Kawasaki will be building the handling terminal and evaluating its operation. The basic design of the terminal has been completed, and construction is scheduled to commence in April 2019, after the selection of material suppliers and construction contractors. The terminal is slated to be completed in June 2020, followed by a test run.
By fall 2020, the production of LH2 will commence and the terminal will be ready for loading it onto an LH2 carrier for transportation.

A vast brown coal mine in the Latrobe Valley, located in the south-west part of Australia.
An artist's rendition of a system to produce hydrogen from brown coal in the Latrobe Valley. The system is being constructed under the leadership of J-POWER. The hydrogen produced through this system will then undergo refining, loading, and other downstream processes which are carried out as part of the Australian portion.

Storage Transportation

Construction of a Liquefied Hydrogen (LH2) Carrier and Handling TerminalPioneering a New Era of Energy
Use by Achieving
the World's First Long-Distance
Transportation of Hydrogen

  • Kenjiro Shindo
    Deputy Manager,
    Project Promotion Department
    Hydrogen Project Development Center
    Corporate Technology Division
    Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd.

When the temperature of hydrogen is lowered to -253°C, it liquefies, and the volume reduces to approximately one eight-hundredth that of the gaseous state, making mass transport far more efficient. An LH2 carrier is tasked with marine transport of LH2 from Australia to Japan, a journey of about 9,000 km.
As a member of HySTRA, Kawasaki is responsible for construction of the LH2 carrier, and Shell Japan is to operate the vessel. The construction of the pilot vessel is scheduled to begin in the second half of fiscal 2018, and it will set out on its maiden voyage from Japan to Australia at the end of fiscal 2020.
An LH2 tank with a capacity of 1,250 ㎥ will be installed on the vessel. The tank is designed with a double-hulled, thermos-like structure and its design pressure is on the order of five times standard atmospheric pressure.

Kenjiro Shindo, Deputy Senior Manager of the Hydrogen Project Development Center under the Corporate Technology Division, comments, “The LH2 tanks are required to have thermal insulation performance ten times greater than that for liquefied natural gas (LNG), and Kawasaki is utilizing expertise gained from manufacturing LNG transport tanks and LH2 tanks at the Tanegashima Space Center.”
He adds, “Because it will be installed on the world's first LH2 carrier, we are making sure its safety performance is high, and we have been incorporating safety assessments associated with emergency hydrogen release as part of the development of transport tank-related technologies. LH2 is more evaporable than LNG, and because its molecules are smaller, it leaks more easily. To accommodate such characteristics, we are leveraging manufacturing expertise gained through LNG tank production, and from many other technologies developed for products used everywhere from underground to outer space.”

In 2016, IMO officially approved the safety standard requirements proposed by Japan for LH2 transport, which is the first rung on the ladder for contributing to the establishment of international rules.

For the handling terminal that will be receiving LH2 from Australia, Kawasaki will be building a plant system on the Kobe Airport Island to be operated by Iwatani. As with the tanks on the carrier, insulation and sealing performance of the facilities for unloading LH2 from the carrier into storage tanks are key to ensuring safety.
“We developed a technique using double-walled flexible hoses with high insulation and sealing performance as compared to conventional handling systems used for LNG, in order to secure the connection between the swaying LH2 carrier and the onshore storage tank. This will be the world's first pilot test of this innovative approach,” says Shindo.
Because mass marine transport of LH2 has never been carried out, a set of new regulations had to be formulated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ensure its safe transport. After many deliberations based on proposals from Japan, in 2016, the IMO officially approved the safety requirements as proposed by Japan.

This means that the building of the world's first LH2 carrier will make not only a technological contribution to the industry, but also serve as a way to validate the international standards for safe LH2 transport, and lead to further establishment of such standards.
“Because the actual carrier is not yet completed, the IMO requirements are interim recommendations. If the pilot vessel is approved as the world's first LH2 carrier, and if we gain experience operating it, the knowledge will be channeled into establishment of international rules,” Shindo comments.
The manufacturers and users partnering under HySTRA aspire to achieve commercialized LH2 transport through safe and solid verification of this first-of-its-kind technology.

An artist's rendition of an LH2 carrier and a handling terminal to be built on Kobe Airport Island, both of which will use the world's first insulation and sealing technologies for safe hydrogen transport and storage.


Co-generation Utilizing
a Hydrogen Gas Turbine
Capacity and Safety of Large-scale
Power Generation in Urban Areas Verified

  • Mitsugu Ashikaga
    Deputy Senior Manager,
    Project Control Department
    Hydrogen Project Development Center
    Corporate Technology Division
    Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd.

On April 19 and 20, 2018, the world's first verification test was successfully completed for providing both heat and power to urban areas on Kobe's Port Island, using a gas turbine fueled by 100% hydrogen.
During the test, heat (steam and hot water) and power were successfully provided to four facilities, including a sports center and a municipal hospital in the vicinity, from the co-generation system (CGS) comprising a power generator and a boiler built on the campus of the former Minatojima Clean Center (waste treatment facility) in Kobe City. At the sports center, hot water was used for its swimming pool, hot-water supply, and heating, while at the municipal hospital, steam was used for heating water, room heating, and sterilization of medical equipment and utensils.

Conceptual Diagram of the Hydrogen Power Generation Demonstration System in Kobe (As of June 2018)

The energy supplied amounted to 1,100 kW of electricity and 2,800 kW of heat.
Named “The Smart Community Technology Development Project Utilizing Hydrogen Cogeneration Systems,” this project to generate heat and power utilizing a hydrogen-fueled gas turbine was implemented as part of NEDO's “Technology Development for the Realization of a Hydrogen Society” program. It aims at achieving development and verification of an integrated energy management system (EMS) that enables optimal and efficient use of power, heat, and hydrogen by users in the community.

In this project, for which a series of similar tests is planned, Kawasaki is responsible for providing a gas turbine, a power generator, and a boiler, and
Obayashi Corporation is currently developing the integrated EMS.
Mitsugu Ashikaga, Deputy Senior Manager of the Project Control Department for the Hydrogen Project Development Center under Kawasaki's Corporate Technology Division, comments, “The mission of the test was to collect data associated with gas turbine performance, which changes seasonally due to variable demand, and to establish control techniques for the integrated EMS. The collected data and its analyses are essential in gaining sophisticated and practical expertise.”
Kawasaki has been developing the gas turbine used for the project. It allows usage of either hydrogen or natural gas alone, as well as flexible adjustment of any hydrogen/natural gas combustion ratio.

This gas turbine not only allows combustion solely of hydrogen or natural gas, but also a variable hydrogen/natural gas combustion ratio. The photos above show how flame behavior changes according to the ratio of hydrogen/natural gas in the fuel mixture. Because the hydrogen flame temperature is high and the flame is easily spread, it could result in equipment damage. To resolve this without redesigning the gas turbine body, a new type of burner for hydrogen was developed (the cylindrical section in the illustration).

When only hydrogen is used, the temperature of the flame is high and the flame is easily spread, which results in burner damage and emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx). Kawasaki resolved these problems by developing a fuel injection valve with a novel shape and adopting a method through which water and fuel are injected together.
Ashikaga says, “The most significant achievement of the verification test was that we were able to verify that hydrogen energy could be used safely in a community setting.” Robust design and building methods are applied not only to the gas turbine but also to the entire plant, assuring that at both the plant capacity and the operational safety levels, practical power generation for large-scale facilities using hydrogen is possible.