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Sumitomo Chemical announces “turquoise” hydrogen joint research project

| By Mary Bailey

Sumitomo Chemical Co. (Tokyo, Japan) and the National Institute of Technology Asahikawa College announced that they will accelerate joint research on a catalyst and a process for low environmental impact commercial production of turquoise hydrogen, along with joint research into applications of the solid carbons generated as byproducts from the process.

Hydrogen, which is used as a raw material for chemical products, is becoming increasingly important both as a raw material for chemical recycling of plastics and as a next-generation energy source that emits no carbon dioxide (CO2) when combusted. There are various processes for producing hydrogen, and the hydrogen obtained by the pyrolysis of methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG), is known as turquoise hydrogen. This methane pyrolysis process simultaneously generates valuable solid carbons, such as carbon nanotubes, as byproducts, but it requires a large amount of heat, making efficient heat transfer a major challenge.

Asahikawa College and Sumitomo Chemical have engaged in joint research on the production of turquoise hydrogen using microwaves, which transfer heat efficiently, as well as a catalyst, since 2019, and have successfully produced hydrogen by microwave heating using a fluidized bed reactor in laboratory-scale experiments. The two consider this as a significant achievement that could help accelerate commercialization of the methane pyrolysis process because theoretically it enables continuous discharge of the generated solid carbons. Going forward, Asahikawa College will search for catalyst candidates to improve the yield of the reaction and evaluate the properties of the solid carbons to develop applications of the byproducts. Sumitomo Chemical will produce the catalyst to be developed in collaboration with Asahikawa College and work to establish the reaction process using a fluidized bed. In addition, by applying the results of this joint research with Asahikawa College to the joint development with Microwave Chemical Co., Ltd., which was announced on February 21, 2022, Sumitomo Chemical will accelerate the commercialization of a more efficient hydrogen production process.

Asahikawa College and Sumitomo Chemical will strive to contribute to achieving a carbon neutral society through the joint research to develop innovative hydrogen production technology.