International Correspondents

Hydrogen from By-Product of Water Purification

At the Asaka Water Purification Plant in Saitama prefecture, which borders on Tokyo, a test is being conducted to verify whether hydrogen, a by-product from manufacturing chlorine, can be used to power an electric car.

In the process of separating salt water in order to create the chlorine (sodium hypochlorite), used for water purification, a significant amount of hydrogen is emitted. Until now, there has been no method of utilising that hydrogen and thus it has been released into the atmosphere. The idea is to capture this hydrogen, to compress it in order to create electricity that would be utilised to supply fuel cell vehicles. This is the first trial of this kind ever run in Japan.

In addition to creating the hydrogen fuel, the project is considering the possibility of introducing water-tankers,which would be developed to be fuelled by hydrogen, into the water-distribution operation network. Then, in the event of a natural disaster (such as earthquakes, which occur frequently in Japan), even if gasoline supplies have been interrupted – which was the case in the 2011 Tohoku disaster – drinking water can be supplied to the impacted areas.

The plan is to install equipments that can capture, compress and store the hydrogen which will then be used to supply hydrogen stations within major cities. If proven viable, then the target is to be able to supply sufficient hydrogen needed for 3,000 water-tankers per year.

Should this pilot project prove successful, the system would then be implemented in water purification plants throughout Tokyo, with the continued focus on the supply of emergency fuel for use by water-tankers and possibly other emergency vehicles.

Click here for the original report in Japanese.

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