Green Ammonia Consortium: A Force for Ammonia Energy

Japan’s Green Ammonia Consortium, an industry body dedicated to building “a value chain from supply to use of CO2-free ammonia,” launched its Web site on December 5. The site features plenty of interesting content, but most significant may be the roster of members. Eighty seven companies, public organizations, and individuals are listed. Taken together they represent a significant force for ammonia energy implementation in Japan and beyond.

The Regular Membership category, which is open to companies registered in Japan only, is the most populous. Its 54 constituents contribute significantly to Japan’s industrial prowess. Included are globally prominent names like Mitsubishi (represented by Mitsubishi Corporation and four Mitsubishi operating units) Sumitomo (represented by Sumitomo Corporation and Sumitomo Chemical) and Toyota (represented by three Toyota Group operating units). These companies and the other Regular Members do indeed cover the potential ammonia energy value chain. This can be seen even within the organization’s Board of Directors, whose twelve members include senior executives from technology developer IHI, energy developer JERA, engineering and construction companies JGC, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Toyo Engineering, ammonia producer Ube Industries, trading companies Mitsui and Marubeni, and energy utility Tokyo Gas Company. (One important link in the value chain, shipping, is not represented on the Board but is represented by four companies in the Regular Membership.)

Scientific research and technology development are no less important than corporate heft for the energy transition, and here too the GAC has attracted important players. On the one hand the Advisory Membership category includes Japanese research institutes such as the Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI), the Coal Energy Center, and the National Institute of Maritime, Port and Aviation Research. On the other hand, the Associate Membership category includes faculty members from Japanese universities with histories in ammonia energy research including Kyoto University Professor Koichi Eguchi, Hiroshima University Professor Yoshitsugu Kojima, and Tohoku University Professor Hideaki Kobayashi.

The Associate Membership category is also able to further the Green Ammonia Consortium’s avowed interest in international collaboration through the inclusion of foreign companies. Of the ten companies currently on board, three are from Norway and five from Australia. These national delegations are buttressed in the Advisory Membership category by Norway’s Japanese Embassy and no fewer than four Australian agencies. (One of Japan’s other energy trading partners, Saudi Arabia, is represented in the Regular Membership category by Aramco Asia Japan Company.)

The Web site also features the announcement of two awards from the Japan Combustion Society.  The Green Ammonia Consortium’s Vice President and Representative Director Shigeru Muraki, along with Associate Members Ken-ichi Aika and Bunro Shiozawa, received the Society’s Technology Award for their leadership of the Japanese Government’s Cross-Ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program Energy Carriers initiative. In addition, Kobayashi and three collaborators received the Society’s Best Paper Award for “Science and technology of ammonia combustion,” a submission that was published in the Proceedings of the Combustion Institute in November 2018. The technical developments detailed in the paper were supported by the Energy Carriers initiative.

The Energy Carriers initiative was chartered in 2014 and concluded its work in March 2019. Muraki, who served as the initiative’s Director throughout its career, was a catalyst in the effort to transfer the Energy Carriers’ momentum to a new industry-led vehicle. After completion of preparatory activities in the second quarter, the Green Ammonia Consortium held its first General Meeting on July 1, 2019. At that time, Osamu Ishitobi, Advisor to Sumitomo Chemical Co., was elected President, and Muraki and Yutaka Yamazaki, Vice President and Executive Officer of JGC Holdings, were elected Executive Vice Presidents.

The scope of the Energy Carriers initiative included liquid hydrogen and the category of liquid organic hydrides. Liquid hydrogen is the focus of HySTRA, a Japanese industry group that was formed in 2016. According to a December 2019 newsletter from Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, the shipping company within the Kawasaki Group, HySTRA has seven members, including Marubeni and Shell Japan who are also members of the Green Ammonia Consortium.

The last paragraph of this article was revised on January 10, 2020. Further revisions were made on January 13, 2020 to correct Japanese-to-English mistranslations.

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