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What is needed to popularize the production, storage, transport and utilization of large volumes of hydrogen?

  • 2021-11-30
  • 3 min read

Demand increases for establishing supply chains that mass-produce hydrogen at low cost

After net-zero commitments were announced by governments in many countries, the transition to clean energy is being explored in various parts of the world. Currently, projects involving mass production of hydrogen at a low cost are in pilot stages, but establishing supply chains to distribute by 2030 and 2050 are gaining momentum. Creating these supply chains and reducing hydrogen price are vital for enhancing the use of hydrogen, the ultimate clean energy source. Hydrogen energy providers are required to reduce both the equipment installation costs (CAPEX) and the operational maintenance costs (OPEX), which directly affect the price of hydrogen. It is also essential to take into account the future increase in capacity. "Pressurizing” is essential for each process that produces, stores, transports, and uses large volumes of hydrogen. Compressors are required in this step, however, most compressors are not suitable for boosting the pressure of large amounts of hydrogen. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has the following three concepts for centrifugal hydrogen compressors.

  • High performance
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to install and maintain

With a molecular weight of 2, hydrogen is the lightest gas on earth. Boosting its pressure requires increasing the rotational and super-high speed of the impeller as much as possible. Moreover, hydrogen has a property that makes materials brittle (hydrogen embrittlement), meaning that hydrogen compressors require advanced technological capabilities that achieve both choosing a material that can resist embrittlement and increase super high-speed. MHI offers high-performance hydrogen compressors with impellers that are ideal for a wide range of applications, from low to high flow rates. MHI's centrifugal hydrogen compressor uses super high-speed impellers to boost the pressure of hydrogen, increasing the pressure ratio per casing and making the compressor compact and lightweight. The installation space is 30% that of conventional system (compared to our existing models). The lightweight and compact design contributes significantly to reducing CAPEX. It is also possible to minimize installation space when increasing capacity to commercialize hydrogen plants in 2030 and after. Reducing CAPEX further is directly minimizing construction time and operating expenses. The compressor train provides a simple system configuration by packaging the motor and compressor. In addition, the time required for maintenance itself is reduced by considering the ease of maintenance for use in isolated areas. In addition, continuous operation for long time is possible.

Centrifugal hydrogen compressor, the first move by MHI

Ever since MHI developed “Mitsubishi Advanced Compressor (MAC)” in 1986, MHI has been constantly developing innovative technologies and has been playing an important role in petrochemical as well as oil and gas applications. The MHI’s inline compressor has over 2,600 units operating. In anticipation of future hydrogen society, MHI's compressors have the centrifugal hydrogen compressor technology that can handle a larger capacity.

 Vertically split (V-type) compressor train

Minimizing CAPEX and OPEX, providing remote monitoring

Implementing MHI's centrifugal hydrogen compressor will reduce the equipment installation costs (CAPEX) and the plant operation and maintenance costs (OPEX). MHI is also working to deliver solutions for reducing the load on operators using remote monitoring and automatic operations. We are working to build a value chain that aims to realize a hydrogen society that looks ahead to 2030, 2050, and beyond.

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