Australia and Japan launch joint brown coal-to-hydrogen project

Hydrogen Fuel News, March 18, 2021

Japan and Australia have announced the launch of a new brown coal-to-hydrogen project. This project will use brown coal in Australia to produce liquefied H2, which will then be shipped to Japan. The project will produce the hydrogen at two facilities located in Victoria. The partnership is called the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain. It was formed through a consortium of companies in Australia and Japan. It is a pilot project currently estimated to have a value of AU$500 million. The purpose of this partnership is to form a complete and solid supply chain for H2.

Government and company representatives from both countries and from all the participating companies in the consortium attended a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony last week in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. That is the location of the source of the coal for this brown coal-to-hydrogen project.

The brown coal-to-hydrogen project will steam it under a very high heat in order to extract the hydrogen.

Since brown coal has a high water content, it isn’t considered to be as energy efficient as other forms. Moreover, burning it produces more greenhouse gas emissions than black coal. As a result, that substance isn’t used as often in Australia’s remaining coal-fired power stations.

Once the H2 is produced in the form of a gas, it is transported about 160 km away to the Port of Hastings. There, it is cooled to the point of liquifying it at 253 degrees Celsius. This also reduces the hydrogen’s volume to about 1/800 of the original volume of the gas.

The liquid H2 will then be shipped to Japan by way of the Suiso Frontier, the first liquefied hydrogen carrier constructed specifically for that purpose. The Suiso Frontier was developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.

Though H2 gasification and liquefication through the brown coal-to-hydrogen has now started, the Brown coal-to-hydrogen – coal shipment component of the project won’t begin until the second half of 2021. At that point, it will begin shipping to Kobe, where it will be received by a storage facility.