Image credit Eneos
Japanese oil and shipping company Eneos has opened a demonstration plant in Brisbane, Australia, which will produce methylcyclohexane (MCH), a liquid hydrogen carrier.
The use of MCH as a hydrogen carrier has the potential to simplify the storage and transportation of hydrogen, which is otherwise a gas at normal temperatures and pressures.
Eneos has developed a process called Direct MCH to produce green MCH from water, toluene, and RE in a single step without hydrogen gas by taking advantage of a unique electrochemical reaction.
The company has validated the technology for a series of green hydrogen supply chains, including MCH production in Australi, transportation to Japan, hydrogen extraction, purification, pressure boosting and filling fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs), and test driving. Australia has been selected due to the abundance of renewable energy.
At the moment there are various challenges to transporting hydrogen via ships.
Hydrogen can be shipped in its gaseous or liquid form. Shipping gaseous hydrogen requires high-pressure containers, typically made of steel, to store and transport the gas. These containers are designed to withstand pressure, temperature changes, and prevent leaks.
On the other hand, shipping liquid hydrogen requires specialized cryogenic containers that can maintain the low temperature required to keep the hydrogen in its liquid state (-253°C). These containers must be well insulated to prevent heat transfer and maintain the low temperature of the hydrogen.
That being said, only one vessel at the moment has the capability to transport hydrogen-Suiso Frontier.
MCH can be transported at room temperature in standard tankers, removing the need to buid specialized vessels for hydrogen transportation and utilizing existing ones. However, there are various safety requirements and regulations to consider at MCH is flammable, so it must be transported in containers that meet strict safety standards.
In addition, it is imperative that the crew is trained in emergency response procedures in case of a spill or fire.
According to Eneos, the plant is set to launch operations in February and it forms part of a larger strategy aimed at the mass production of green MCH, which is produced from solar power.
During the demonstration period which is expected to last eight months, Eneos plans to transport the MCH to Japan where it will extract hydrogen in its central research laboratory.
Utilizing the knowledge obtained from the demonstration, Eneos plans to commercialize hydrogen production by FY2025.