Vol. 77, No. 4, July 2022

Special Reports

Hydrogen Energy Solutions Contributing to Realization of Carbon Neutrality

SANAGI Yoshihisa

SATO Junichi / SAITO Satoshi

Accompanying the worldwide momentum toward carbon neutrality, concerted efforts are being made to develop related technologies in numerous fields including the widespread adoption of renewable energy and carbon recycling. In particular, the role of hydrogen has become more important than ever before.

The Toshiba Group has been promoting the realization of a hydrogen society through the development of various hydrogen energy technologies, including hydrogen production technologies for the mass introduction of hydrogen at low cost and fuel cell technologies to expand the use of hydrogen. We are also providing power-to-gas (P2G) solutions to accelerate the installation of renewable energy systems, and power-to-chemicals (P2C) solutions to recycle carbon dioxide (CO2) using renewable energy.

NAKAJIMA Keita / BABA Junsuke

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation has been participating in the construction and demonstration operation of a hydrogen production facility equipped with a 10 MW-class hydrogen production unit and a 20 MW solar photovoltaic power generation facility in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, since 2016, through the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field (FH2R) project commissioned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

In 2019, we completed the construction and commissioning run of the hydrogen production facility as well as the development, evaluation, and implementation of the control system. Since 2020, we have been conducting demonstration operation using this control system aimed at confirming its functions including a demand response (DR) function for maintaining the balance of electricity supply and demand.

YOSHINAGA Norihiro / SUGANO Yoshitsune / SHIMOTORI Soichiro

As the power generated by renewable energy systems tends to vary according to the weather conditions and the installation sites of such systems tend to be unevenly distributed, power-to-gas (P2G), a system in which surplus electric power is converted into hydrogen gas through water electrolysis to serve as a gaseous energy carrier for the storage and transport of energy, has been attracting attention in recent years. Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) water electrolysis systems are capable of rapidly responding to the output power fluctuations of renewable energy systems. However, a disadvantage of these systems is that they require large amounts of costly precious-metal catalysts in order to achieve high efficiency and long-term durability.

To reduce the amount of precious-metal catalysts required, the Toshiba Group has developed the following two technologies: a proprietary nanostructure control technology using a sputtering method, and a hydrogen leakage suppression technology for membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs). From the results of experiments on a PEM water electrolysis system using these technologies, we have confirmed that it achieves a 90% reduction in required precious-metal catalysts compared with conventional systems while maintaining efficiency and durability. We have also succeeded in increasing the size of the MEA by suppressing the formation of wrinkles in the electrolyte membranes, making it possible to manufacture large-scale PEM water electrolysis systems.

YOSHINO Masato / OSADA Norikazu / HASEBE Kazuto

The development and introduction of water electrolysis technologies for carbon dioxide (CO2)-free hydrogen production using power generated by renewable energy sources have been progressing worldwide in recent years, as part of the movement toward the realization of carbon neutrality.

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation is continuing its efforts to develop technologies for high-temperature steam electrolysis in solid oxide cells in order to make more effective use of exhaust heat from existing power generation plants and industrial systems. We have already developed a small electrolysis cell that achieves an initial current density of more than 0.8 A/cm2 and provides adequate durability for four or five years. We have now developed an improved small electrolysis cell composed of low-cost materials, whose initial performance is comparable to that of the conventional cell. We have also been making efforts to promote the design of a 500 kW-class electrolysis system and the development of manufacturing processes for this system with the objective of achieving the practical implementation of large-scale hydrogen production systems at an early stage.

HIDAI Shoichi / OGASAWARA Momo / NAGATA Yusaku / SASAKI Hiromi

In line with the recent world trend toward the achievement of carbon neutrality, attention in China has been increasingly focused on the development of technologies utilizing  hydrogen energy.

With these circumstances as a background, Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation has developed a 5 kW fuel cell (FC) stack for reformed methanol FC systems supplied by More Hydrogen Energy Technology Co., Ltd. (MOH), a Chinese company in Guangzhou City, as power generation systems installed at base stations for fifth-generation (5G) mobile communications. This FC stack achieves high durability through the application of technologies cultivated in our development of the ENE-FARM residential FC system. We have conducted both performance tests using a mixed-fuel gas and accelerated durability tests, and verified that the newly developed 5 kW FC stack satisfies the specifications required for reformed methanol FC systems.

SAWAMOTO Noritatsu / SUZUKI Takashi / YAMAGATA Koichi

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation transferred its fuel cell manufacturing base to a new facility in September 2020 to tackle manufacturing reforms, with the aim of increasing production volume and improving product quality.

We are now working toward the realization of smart operation, in order to construct production lines capable of preventing various problems related to quality, productivity, and safety that might occur during the manufacturing of fuel cell products. Smart operation of the facility, which will lead to the creation of a smart factory, involves the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically detect any signs of abnormalities based on data collected in real time from each process by means of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, making it possible to enhance and automate plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycles at the site.

MIZUGUCHI Koji / ODAIRA Hiromichi / HANAI Satoshi

Toward the achievement of carbon neutrality by 2050, substantial progress is expected in innovations related to transforming renewable energy into the predominant source of power, electrification, and the realization of a hydrogen society. On the other hand, there is a strong need for the replacement of fossil-derived mobility fuels as well as chemical products derived from fossil fuels because of the difficulty of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions during the manufacturing of such products.

With the aim of overcoming this issue, Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation is promoting the practical application of power-to-chemicals (P2C) through the electrochemical conversion of CO2 contained in exhaust gases and the atmosphere into carbon monoxide (CO) using surplus power generated from renewable energy sources, as well as the production of synthetic fuels and chemicals synthesized from CO and green hydrogen (H2). Focusing on CO2 electrolysis technologies that are playing a key role in P2C, we are developing a high-throughput CO2 electrolysis cell stack and a CO2 electrolysis module using fuel cell manufacturing equipment aimed at producing several tens of thousands of tons of CO annually by 2030.

OSADA Norikazu / ICHIKAWA Nagayoshi / INUZUKA Riko

High-temperature steam electrolysis technology is currently attracting attention as a carbon recycling technology to drastically reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

With this as a background, Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation is promoting the development of solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) in order to improve the efficiency of hydrogen production systems. As part of these efforts, we have been engaged in the application of SOEC technologies to the co-electrolysis (i.e., simultaneous electrolysis) of CO2 and water (H2O). Through investigations of the main and sub-reactions of co-electrolysis electrodes, we have verified that the reduction rates of CO2 and H2O vary according to the composition of the electrodes. In addition, we have confirmed that the nickel-gadolinia doped ceria (Ni-GDC) electrode developed for large-scale high-temperature steam electrolysis systems also offers high performance as a co-electrolysis electrode.

KUMAZAWA Toshimitsu / ITAKURA Akihiro / SATO Kodai

Since hydrogen can store large amounts of energy for a prolonged period, the development of technologies utilizing carbon dioxide (CO2)-free hydrogen is being actively promoted in various countries toward the achievement of carbon neutrality.

The Toshiba Group has been developing and releasing hydrogen energy supply systems comprising equipment developed in-house, including hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen production systems, and storage batteries. We have now developed evaluation technologies to visualize the effects of introducing hydrogen energy supply systems in the proposal and design phases. Based on these technologies, we have established an evaluation simulator that makes it possible to propose appropriate solutions to customers in a timely manner.

Feature Articles


The rapid increase in the volume of data processing and communication resulting from the progress of information technology (IT) in recent years has given rise to the need for large-scale data centers, which are being constructed worldwide. Increased power consumption in such large-scale data centers is driving demand for uninterruptible power systems (UPS) with larger capacity compared with existing models.

In response to this market demand, Toshiba Infrastructure Systems & Solutions Corporation has developed the TOSNIC™-U350 modular type UPS with a capacity of 1 000 kVA or larger, as an addition to its lineup of UPS models. The TOSNIC™-U350 achieves high reliability by employing a modular configuration and provides high operating efficiency so as to improve the overall efficiency of electricity use in data centers, while also ensuring compatibility with three-phase four-wire power distribution systems.

OHNO Hiroshi

Non-contact inspection methods to measure the three-dimensional (3D) surface shapes of products by means of calculations using multiple images captured by cameras have become widely disseminated in a variety of manufacturing processes, either during or after the processing of products. However, as it is difficult to obtain clear images of microdefects on the surfaces of products using conventional optical imaging technologies, there is a possibility that the shapes of microdefects might not be distinguished or that they might be overlooked.

To address this issue, Toshiba Corporation has developed a method to calculate the 3D surface shapes of microdefects through color mapping of the directions of light reflected from the microdefects using a clear image obtained by a newly developed one-shot optical imaging system. From the results of experiments using a prototype imaging system, we have confirmed that this method makes it possible to instantly measure the 3D surface shapes of microdefects, including those of minute scale.

SHIMIZU Yosuke / MIYAZAKI Kentaro / SAITO Masahiro

In the production line design process, conventional methods for conducting design reviews that depend on information contained in the design drawings often lead to an inadequate review of workability due to a lack of assessments from the viewpoint of on-site workers, thereby incurring the risk of redesign of such production lines at the time of startup.

To overcome this problem, Toshiba Corporation has developed a design review method using virtual reality (VR) technologies that makes it possible to investigate workability in an environment close to that of actual operations in three-dimensional (3D) space. This VR method incorporates the following functions: (1) a function to investigate the overall arrangement of the production line, (2) a function to recognize the hand positions of workers in the VR space, and (3) a function to make modifications to the original arrangement design. Through the application of this method to the development of a production line, we have confirmed that it can eliminate the need for redesign at the time of startup by identifying problems in advance and allowing effective measures to be taken from the viewpoint of on-site workers.

SUZUMOTO Satoru / NAKAJIMA Nobuyasu / IKEDA Kazushi

In the field of monitoring systems for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of factories and infrastructure facilities, demand is growing for easy customization of the user interface (UI) of monitoring screens so as to accommodate changes in equipment and monitoring work during operation.

In response to this market demand, the Toshiba Group has developed a UI framework comprising a low-code web application equipped with UI components that are commonly required for monitoring screens. This UI framework incorporates the following features: (1) easy-to-understand operability, (2) easy customization of monitoring screens by means of minimal programming, and (3) high usability due to its ability to run in web browsers. As a result of these features, this UI framework is expected to be applied to cloud services that will allow the scale of monitoring systems to be easily expanded.

Frontiers of Research & Development

Operation Management System Capable of Efficiently Controlling Multiple Mobile Robots for Transportation Tasks

*Company, product, and service names appearing in each paper include those that are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.