Kawasaki will Transform Brown Coal into Hydrogen in Pilot Project for Australia

Kawasaki will produce and ship hydrogen from brown coal to Japan via a specially designed sea-carrier

The Australian government has collaborated with Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries on a pilot project to produce hydrogen from brown coal. The project is estimated to cost a little over €325 million and will be located in Victoria, Australia, home to over one-fourth of the world’s brown coal. Australian Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, said: “We have the potential here to be world leaders in the production and export of hydrogen and this project is developing… technology to do exactly that.”

The pilot will also demonstrate the feasibility of liquefying hydrogen and transporting it on a specially designed cargo carrier by sea. This will create the world’s first global supply chain for liquefied hydrogen which caters to end-to-end needs of manufacturers and clients.

For Australia, this project is significant to expand its consumer base and develop sustainable industries. The country is already a dominant player in the trade of liquefied natural gas around the world. Demonstrating capability to produce liquefied hydrogen from brown coal will develop a sustainable market for its coal and gas products. Among coal sources, brown coal is considered to be of least value because of its low energy content. It is currently fuelling some of Australia’s most polluting power stations. Some of these stations have shut down or are planned for closure. Hirofumi Kawazoe, General Manager, Kawasaki’s Hydrogen Engineering Australia Unit, said: “The important thing is hydrogen should be cost competitive, and Victorian brown coal is a cheap source of hydrogen.” 

The project aims to produce hydrogen by neutralising coal with oxygen and steam under high temperatures. The process will create carbon emissions and other gases. The state and national government of Australia is operating a parallel project which aims at capturing, transporting and injecting these carbon emissions under the sea, off the Victorian coast. 

Japan is the world’s fifth biggest consumer of energy, and it is hopeful that with the success of this pilot, it will meet the boost in hydrogen demand for power generation. Japan has projected that hydrogen demand will go up by 10 times to 20 million tonnes by 2050, powering 40% sources of electricity for the country. In addition to Kawasaki, other partners on the pilot are Itawani Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation and AGL Limited which is supplying the brown coal.

Credit: Kawasaki Heavy Industries Website