Itochu, Hitachi Zosen, Hydrogenics to Demo PEM

May 31, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

ITOCHU Corp. (Tokyo, Japan) announced that it will start a demonstration test involving a proton-exchange membrane (PEM) stationary fuel cell, in collaboration with Hydrogenics Corp. (Toronto, Canada) and Hitachi Zosen Corp. (Osaka, Japan). ITOCHU applied to the demonstration test subsidy program of Mie Prefecture and Yokkaichi City, proposing a combination of a PEM fuel cell and a water electrolyzer, and has recently received official approval.

The system to be tested includes Hitachi Zosen's PEM water electrolyzer and Hydrogenics' 10 kW HyPM-10 PEM fuel cell power module. The system will be integrated by Hitachi Zosen with support from Hydrogenics, and installed at the International Center for Environmental Technology Transfer in Yokkaichi City. The system will be installed between August and September 2004, and subsequent demonstration tests will be conducted in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the regenerative system.

The system uses renewable energy. Electric power for the electrolyzer will be supplied by a photovoltaic power generation system as well as grid power. Hydrogen generated by the electrolyzer will be reconverted into electricity by the fuel cell. By using the combination of an electrolyzer, a hydrogen storage tank and a fuel cell, this "regenerative" power system can supply a stable quantity of electric power from renewable energy sources. By producing hydrogen using off-peak grid power, the system can also contribute to the leveling of electric load demand.