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Yokogawa invests in and inks business partnership agreement with Tsubame BHB

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has invested in and signed a memorandum on a business partnership with Tsubame BHB. Tsubame BHB, a university-based startup that was founded by a group headed by Professor Emeritus Hideo Hosono of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, has developed an ammonia synthesis method that makes use of electride catalysts.

Ammonia is mainly used in the production of fertilizers, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. As well as playing an essential role in improving crop yields for a growing world population, it is hoped that it can also serve as a H2 carrier and fuel. While the synthesis of ammonia from H2 and nitrogen is conventionally done under high temperature and high-pressure conditions, Tsubame BHB’s electride catalysts enable the synthesis of H2 and nitrogen at relatively low temperature and pressure levels and thus can reduce the environmental impact of the ammonia synthesis process. Tsubame BHB has already received an order to supply a small, distributed ammonia production plant.

Small distributed ammonia production plant.

In view of an anticipated major surge in energy demand that will drive the need for ammonia fuel and H2 carriers, Tsubame BHB has raised capital and is working to optimize the design of processes used by medium and large-scale ammonia synthesis facilities and developing catalysts that do not require the use of 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 the handling of data from upstream renewable energy and H2 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.

Koji Nakaoka, a Yokogawa senior vice president and head of the company's Energy & Sustainability Business Headquarters and Global Sales Headquarters said, “In accordance with Yokogawa’s Purpose, which states, ‘Utilizing our ability to measure and connect, we fulfill our responsibilities for the future of our planet,’ we shall undertake investigations that include working with Tsubame BHB on the development of solutions that enable ammonia manufacturing and provision with a low environmental burden, for the achievement of a decarbonized society.”