SHI Cryogenics Group: Promoting Emission-Reducing Initiatives for a More Sustainable Society

The Hasso-no-Mori (Forest of Ideas) within the larger Musashino Forest at Tokyo’s Tanashi Works has been preserved and opened to the public. SHI's upgrades and renovations in and around manufacturing facilities have played a role in the Group’s efforts to be more environmentally friendly. Credit: Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd.Whether designing shield coolers for life-saving MRIs, cryopumps for the latest smart device chips, or cryocoolers essential for hydrogen transportation, the SHI Cryogenics Group has been at the forefront of pioneering cryogenic technology for over 60 years. As an integral part of the Industrial Machinery Division of Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. (SHI), the SHI Cryogenics Group’s driving mission is to contribute to the development of science, technology, and healthy human life through its innovative products and services, including cryocoolers, cryopumps and helium compressors. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Group’s commitment towards carbon neutrality. 

SHI has long emphasized the company’s positive contributions to society. The signing of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which set targets for limiting global warming to achieve a climate-neutral world by 2050, encouraged the company to examine its path toward achieving carbon neutrality by mid-century. To this end, SHI released a 2019 plan to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 with the aid of two interim goals by 2030: (1) a 50% carbon dioxide decrease in the company’s manufacturing processes and indirect utility emissions, and (2) a 30% emissions reduction in its supply chain and customers’ use of its products.   

As a result, the SHI Cryogenics Group focused on specific ways it could contribute to SHI’s climate goals by examining its products, processes and customer base. Ultimately, the Group has chosen to focus on four areas of improvement: reduce its direct emissions, develop energy-saving products, provide emission-reducing solutions for customers’ value chains and society, and seek out and develop carbon-reducing applications. 

Curbing the SHI Cryogenics Group’s Direct Emissions Arguably, the most straightforward improvements can be achieved by curbing the Group’s direct emissions as part of its manufacturing process. This includes direct emissions, such as fuel combustion and industrial processes, as well as indirect emissions from electricity, heat and other supplied utilities.  In addition to regulating heating and cooling levels across facilities, SHI plans to purchase renewable energy beginning in 2023, starting with business units in Japan before expanding globally.  

Upgrades and renovations in and around manufacturing facilities have already played a role in the Group’s efforts to be more environmentally friendly and will continue to do so heading toward 2030. At the company’s North American headquarters in Allentown, Penn., a first-of-its-kind modular helium recovery system from Linde is reducing the consumption of purchased helium by up to 70%. At the Tanashi Works factory in Tokyo, the Musashino Forest, which covers about 30% of the grounds, has been preserved, with part of it open to the public.

Energy-Saving Product Development The SHI Cryogenics Group’s entry into energy-saving product development began over 15 years ago with the release of the SICERA® Cryopump. SICERA introduced SHI’s dual inverter technology into the semiconductor marketplace, allowing multiple pumps to operate on one compressor by controlling the speed of both the cryopumps and the compressors. This advancement realized an average energy savings of 20% over existing competitor products in the marketplace and laid the groundwork for similar product developments for the medical and research industries. 

Over the last decade, SHI’s work on Two-Stage 4K Gifford-McMahon cryocoolers has similarly targeted high efficiency and energy savings for users. Models such as the RDE-412D4 1.25 W cryocooler increased capacity by 25% over the RDK-408D2 1 W cryocooler, while maintaining the same power consumption and footprint for easy drop-in replacement.  When paired with an inverter-driven compressor, speed control further increases customers’ efficiency and energy savings and, in the case of MRI equipment, can reduce a magnet’s cooling time and carbon dioxide emissions by about 20%.  

Emission Reduction Solutions for Customers and Society With the move of dual-inverter compressor technology into medical and research applications, SHI’s customers will realize further efficiencies throughout their products’ life cycles. In fact, the majority of the Group’s emissions, and therefore, the focus of its reductions, are the result of the overall use of its products, from initial transportation through regular customer use.

For example, MRI manufacturers have struggled with magnet transportation from its initial production area to the larger MRI manufacturing center for decades. Magnets are typically shipped “cold” – filled with liquid helium – via air to minimize the amount of helium boiloff during transport. Using SHI’s site cooling technology, which features single-stage cryocoolers, magnets can be cooled later in the manufacturing process without additional liquid helium. These magnets could be transported to the factory “warm” via ship, reducing liquid helium consumption and transport emissions.  

These energy savings continue beyond the manufacturing process, thanks to dual-inverter technology. Once installed, MRIs typically operate constantly, hovering between imaging and standby mode during the day and idling at night. By utilizing an inverter-driven compressor, it’s possible to toggle operation on and off during idle periods, further reducing emissions and adding to energy savings and efficiency. 

Collaborating on Carbon-Reducing Applications Beyond its established markets and applications, the SHI Cryogenics Group continues collaborating with new and existing partners to expand its contributions to carbon-reducing applications. Today, SHI cryocoolers are essential for storing and transporting industrial gases for fuel cell vehicles, clean energy and other applications. Single-stage cryocoolers suppress evaporation and recondense boiloff, operating intermittently thanks to inverter control that increases efficiency and saves energy. Beyond storage and transport, SHI cryocoolers are critical components in environmentally friendly applications from nuclear fusion and induction heating to wind power generation and storage.

Since its establishment nearly four centuries ago, Sumitomo’s business philosophy has maintained that the company will always benefit from serving society. The SHI Cryogenics Group is determined to make steady progress toward solving social issues, particularly limiting global warming. Through constant technological innovation and collaboration with its partners, the Group is dedicated to achieving its emission-reduction goals by 2050, realizing a sustainable society for all.

Image: The Hasso-no-Mori (Forest of Ideas) within the larger Musashino Forest at Tokyo’s Tanashi Works has been preserved and opened to the public. SHI's upgrades and renovations in and around manufacturing facilities have played a role in the Group’s efforts to be more environmentally friendly. Credit: Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd.

Share this post:

Comments on "SHI Cryogenics Group: Promoting Emission-Reducing Initiatives for a More Sustainable Society"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment