12 November 2021

Japan’s LPG industry launches institute to develop Green LPG

The Japan LP Gas Association

Japan’s LPG industry launches institute to develop Green LPG

On October 18th, member companies of the Japan LP Gas Association, major LPG importers and distributors in Japan (Astomos Energy, ENEOS GLOBE, Gyxis, Japan Gas Energy and Iwatani Corporation), have established a new organization: The Institute of Japan Green LP Gas Promotion. It will promote the greening of LPG (propane and butane).

The institute aims initially to pursue two pathways to green LPG. The first has been pioneered by the University of Kitakyushu: it is the synthesis of hydrogen directly with carbon dioxide to yield hydrocarbons. This has been shown at small scale to produce LPG at high yields. Unlike Fischer-Tropsch processes that start from carbon monoxide, this starts with carbon dioxide. That CO2 feedstock can be supplied by fermentation or gasification of biomass (particularly sewage sludge) or from CO2-rich flue gases from power plants or steel mills. The Institute aims to demonstrate this technology at an early stage by obtaining full research cooperation from Dr Kaoru Fujimoto, a visiting researcher at the University of Kitakyushu as well as Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo, President of HiBD Research Institute and Professor Emeritus of the University of Kitakyushu), who is a world authority in this field.

The second pathway, to be developed jointly with a major catalyst manufacturer and a researcher center in parallel with the first, will be a catalytic route from biomass feedstocks to LPG via an intermediate of dimethyl ether (DME).

After verifying the results of the two demonstration tests in three years, the Institute aims to realize the social implementation of low-carbon LPG (“Green LPG”) on the scale of 30,000 tons per year in the first half of 2030’s by utilizing the hydrogen and CO2 obtained, for instance, from bio-raw materials generated from sewage-sludge treatment.

LPG is used in a wide range of sectors, including household, commercial, chemical raw materials, automobiles and boosting calorific value of city gas. Domestic demand stands at approximately 13 million tons in the last fiscal year. LPG is expected to remain in significant demand in 2050, according to a government estimate, even as combustion equipment becomes more energy efficient and a decline in population. As there is a limit to the amount of available bio-feedstock, it is hoped that covering all LPG demand by Green LPG will be promoted through the use of green hydrogen in the future.

In late 2020, the Japan LP Gas Association (Chairman: Mr. Tsuyoshi Ogasawara, President of Astomos Energy), set up a study group for the development of green LP Gas production (Chairman: Prof. Yasushi Sekine, Waseda University). The group compiled a report on the future issues and directions for greening of LPG in April 2021. The establishment of the Institute is intended to lead to the social implementation of Green LPG in line with the course of action shown by the study group. Mr Ogasawara, Chairman of our association, will become the Institute’s first Director.


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