What SCREEN Can Do for the Earth and Society
At SCREEN, we are stepping up our environmental initiatives to pursue
both the creation of cutting-edge technologies and solutions
and the establishment of a prosperous and sustainable society.
We offer solutions based on hydrogen energy, which is friendly to the environment.
What is a hydrogen society?
A hydrogen society is a society where hydrogen is used as an energy source or fuel.
It is also called a hydrogen energy society.
Hydrogen can be produced from various sources, such as water and fossil fuels including oil and natural gas, and it emits no CO2 when used.
Hydrogen has come to worldwide attention as a next-generation energy source for its potential contribution to resolving energy issues by increasing the diversity of energy sources and for its high power generation efficiency, which leads to lower energy costs.
History of energy
People have long adapted energy sources to social needs, taking advantage of technological evolution.
The scope of energy use and production has also changed dramatically, with the use of fuel cells and photovoltaic power generation spreading at an accelerated pace in recent years.
In the not-so-distant future, hydrogen is expected to become a common energy source, and SCREEN is developing and producing technologies and devices that would fit such a world.
Clean energy sources already in use
Hydrogen is the most abundant and smallest molecule in the universe. It is all around us in the form of compounds such as water, methane and hydrocarbons.
Being lighter than air and able to turn into a combustible gas once a specific concentration is exceeded, hydrogen has found many industrial applications in areas such as semiconductor processing, fertilizer manufacturing and petrochemical production. More recently, new uses have emerged, such as rechargeable batteries and residential fuel cells known as Ene-Farms, currently being developed in Japan .
Hydrogen can be produced using eco-friendly energy generation methods like hydropower and wind power and be used without CO2 emissions. This makes it an ideal energy source for resource-scarce countries as well as for regions facing energy procurement issues or pursuing carbon neutrality. Expectations for the wider use of hydrogen are growing for these reasons.
Changing uses of hydrogen
Hydrogen life cycle and SCREEN’s focus
The use of hydrogen energy primarily consists of four steps. Among them, we focus on the key phases of production and use and develop technologies and components useful for these applications.
Hydrogen is currently produced mainly through a process of water electrolysis or oil refining.
Other methods include production from waste plastic or biomass, as well as production through water electrolysis using renewable energy, a method characterized by very low CO2 emissions.
Technology used: Water electrolysis system
Website of the Ministry of the Environment:What kind of energy is hydrogen?”
SCREEN focuses on the R&D of cell stacks, a component indispensable for hydrogen production using the water electrolysis method. A cell stack consists of multiple layers of thin components (cells) that produce hydrogen and oxygen through water electrolysis. It is the most expensive component of the water electrolysis system.
SCREEN news release regarding the development of a water electrolysis cell stack
In its gaseous state, hydrogen is enormous in volume and thus inefficient for storage.
To reduce the volume, produced hydrogen is, for example,
1. compressed under high pressure,
2. chilled and liquefied at 253℃ below zero, or
3. occluded in a metal that easily bonds with hydrogen,
before being efficiently stored in plants and hydrogen stations.
Produced hydrogen is transported to industrial plants and hydrogen stations using large trailer trucks specially designed to suit the desired storage method.
Direct transportation via a pipeline may be used if the destination is closer to the production site.
There are two ways to use hydrogen as an energy source: feeding it into a fuel cell to produce electricity and burning it to generate heat and light.
Fuel cells are attracting particular attention as they are considered a circular energy system, in that they use a reaction between oxygen and hydrogen and emit water.
Technology used: Fuel cell system
Website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry: "Learning more about fuel cells" (in Japanese)
SCREEN has begun mass production of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs), a key component of fuel cells that largely determines the durability and performance of the devices.
By bringing together the SCREEN Group’s know-how, including direct coating and drying technologies, we are able to produce high-quality MEAs.
SCREEN news release regarding MEAs for fuel cells (in Japanese)