Image: Port of Rotterdam Authority

The Port of Rotterdam Authority, Koole Terminals, Chiyoda Corporation, and Mitsubishi Corporation have signed an agreement to jointly investigate the feasibility of commercial-scale hydrogen imports from overseas sources to one of Koole’s terminals in the Rotterdam port, utilizing Chiyoda’s proven hydrogen storage and transportation technology SPERAHydrogen.

Northwest-Europe will need to import substantial amounts of hydrogen in order to achieve net zero CO2 emissions. The Port of Rotterdam Authority is therefore investigating ways to establish new hydrogen supply chains from nations with cost-effective hydrogen production and distribution. Numerous enterprises in Rotterdam, such as Koole Terminals, are extremely interested in this quickly growing new market and are planning to innovate and/or build new facilities. The Port of Rotterdam Authority is a supporter of these endeavors.

Transporting hydrogen is more difficult than transporting oil or coal. One method is to cryogenically freeze it to minus 253 degrees, convert it to a carrier such as ammonia or methanol, or chemically mix it in a so-called liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC). MCH is a LOHC. It is stable in the liquid state at room temperature and pressure. In terms of risk, MCH is comparable to petroleum and petrochemical production as a method of storing and transporting hydrogen. Chiyoda Corporation invented the SPERA Hydrogen technology, which allows hydrogen to be extracted from MCH. MCH is synthesized from toluene via a hydrogenation reaction. When hydrogen is made from MCH, toluene is also produced, which can be returned to be utilized as a raw material for MCH again.

In 2020, Chiyoda Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, MITSUI & CO., LTD., and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha successfully completed a demonstration project demonstrating the long-distance transportation and storage of hydrogen using Chiyoda Corporation’s SPERA Hydrogen technology by producing MCH in Brunei, shipping it to Japan, and returning to Brunei with toluene. This was the world’s first worldwide hydrogen supply chain demonstration project, demonstrating the technology’s suitability for commercial application. SPERA Hydrogen is intended to play a critical role in the global development of commercial-scale hydrogen supply chains and in the achievement of global carbon neutrality by 2050. One of the primary advantages of MCH as a hydrogen carrier over liquid hydrogen and ammonia is that it utilizes existing infrastructure and vessels and is easier to handle.

Now, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is collaborating with Koole Terminals, Chiyoda Corporation, and Mitsubishi Corporation to perform a research on large-scale hydrogen imports. The Port of Rotterdam Authority will act as a matchmaker between key hydrogen end consumers in Northwest Europe and competitive offshore hydrogen producers, as well as providing support for the project’s implementation. Koole Terminals will continue to reinvent its terminal facilities and promote the growth of onward transportation to their end users. Chiyoda Corporation will offer the technology for the project, while Mitsubishi Corporation, as one of Japan’s leading trading and investment companies in the energy business, will manage the project’s commercial development, ensuring the complete hydrogen supply chain is commercially viable.

The feasibility study should take about a year. The companies want to import 100 to 200 ktpa hydrogen in 2025 and 300 to 400 ktpa hydrogen in 2030.

Nedim Husomanovic

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