KOBE, Japan—Sumitomo Rubber Industries is set to begin a proof of concept study to establish techniques for harnessing hydrogen as a new source of energy at its major tire factory in Shirakawa, Japan.
Supported by Japan's new energy and industrial technology development organization, the study, which will start in August, aims to harness hydrogen produced within Fukushima Prefecture to manufacture tires, the company said July 28.
The goal, it said, is to produce tires that emit zero carbon during production process.
According to Sumitomo, tire manufacturing requires the application of high-temperature, high-pressure heat energy in the form of steam.
The steam, it said, is difficult to produce using only electric power due to various technical limitations.
As a result, Sumitomo Rubber has selected Shirakawa factory as a pilot plant to use hydrogen as a promising new source of energy.
The project, which will run August 2021 through February 2024, will involve harnessing hydrogen energy in certain tire processes and using it as an energy source.
Furthermore, the proof of concept study will investigate the challenges involved in maintaining 24/7 continuous production using hydrogen energy.
These will include, for instance, identifying and countering technical challenges such controlling nitrogen oxide emissions when using a hydrogen boiler.
Once completed, Sumitomo said it plans to expand the use of hydrogen energy throughout Shirakawa Factory and, ultimately, to group factories in Japan and overseas.
Established in 1974, the Shirakawa plant manufactures 10,350 metric tons per month of passenger car and truck and bus tires and employs just under 1,600 people.