Yokogawa partners with Tsubame BHB to develop ammonia production

March 21, 2024
Tsubame BHB is a university-based startup that invented an ammonia synthesis method using electride catalysts

Yokogawa Electric Corp. announced Feb. 21 that it’s partnering with Tsubame BHB Co., Ltd. on developing ammonia production solutions. Founded by a group headed by emeritus Prof. Hideo Hosono of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tsubame BHB is a university-based startup that invented an ammonia synthesis method using electride catalysts.

While ammonia is mainly used to make fertilizers, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, Yokogawa and Tsubame BHB hope it can also serve as a hydrogen carrier and fuel. Synthesizing ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen is usually done at high temperature and pressure, but Tsubame BHB’s electride catalysts enables the synthesis of hydrogen and nitrogen at relatively low temperature and pressure levels, which reduces the environmental impact of the ammonia synthesis process. Tsubame BHB has already received an order to supply a small distributed ammonia production plant.

In response to an anticipated surge in energy demand driving the need for ammonia fuel and hydrogen carriers, Tsubame BHB is optimizing the design of processes used by medium- and large-scale ammonia synthesis facilities, and developing catalysts that don’t require rare or precious metals. Yokogawa will work with Tsubame BHB to jointly develop solutions that automate the ammonia production process, improve the efficiency of remote operations by integrating data handling from upstream renewable energy and hydrogen production facilities, employ demand forecasting to optimize supply chains, and streamline operations and maintenance. Both companies will also consider accelerating the overseas expansion of this business.

“In accordance with Yokogawa’s purpose—‘Utilizing our ability to measure and connect, we fulfill our responsibilities for the future of our planet’—we’ll undertake investigations that include working with Tsubame BHB on developing solutions that enable ammonia manufacturing and provision with a low environmental burden for the achievement of a decarbonized society,” says Koji Nakaoka, SVP and head of Yokogawa’s energy and sustainability business.

About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control.