Researchers and industry leaders in Queensland and Japan are collaborating on what could be the world’s next renewable fuel – CO2-free hydrogen.

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that can be used to power cars and a range of industrial processes, burning with oxygen to produce only a water vapour residue.

But production of hydrogen is currently expensive and problematic, requiring the burning of fossil fuels that create carbon dioxide emissions.

Japan is at the forefront of research into CO2-free hydrogen, with Professor Masakazu Sugiyama from the University of Tokyo a leader in the field.

In February, TIQ facilitated a visit by Professor Sugiyama to the Northern Oil Advanced Biofuel Pilot Plant at Yarwun near Gladstone.

Visiting the facility with Professor Sugiyama were representatives from Japan’s Sumitomo Group, which is also exploring the potential of CO2-free hydrogen.

Speaking to the Gladstone Observer, Professor Sugiyama said Northern Oil’s plant had the potential to supply Japan with ‘bio hydrogen’ that had been produced using clean energy sources such as solar energy or biofuels.

‘My aim is to prove that hydrogen produced out of this renewable source here in Gladstone can be cost-effective in the future,’ he said.

‘The primary purpose of our visit this time is … so we, the Japanese community, can import hydrogen or solar-driven green fuel from this region.’

As part of the same visit, Professor Sugiyama signed an international cooperation agreement with QUT on behalf of the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST).

The agreement formalises the relationship between QUT and RCAST, including an undertaking to collaborate on joint ventures and academic and scientific activities.

Announcing the agreement, QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Sheil AO said QUT was excited to work with RCAST on real-world research with a global impact.

‘The University of Tokyo is a leader in science and engineering research,’ she said.

‘QUT’s Institute for Future Environments has a purpose and outlook similar to RCAST, with common alignments in many similar fields of endeavour, and particularly in renewable energy and fuels of the future, such as hydrogen.’

Professor Mackinnon thanked TIQ and Sumitomo Electric Industries for their support in helping the two universities formalise the partnership.

Professor Sugiyama was originally introduced to his QUT counterparts by TIQ’s Tokyo office, which is a member of Japan’s CO2-Free Hydrogen Consortium.

TIQ’s Trade and Investment Commissioner for Japan, Tak Adachi, spoke at the consortium’s meeting at the University of Tokyo on 23 February.

Mr Adachi discussed the potential for Queensland and Japan to make clean hydrogen a reality, with QUT and CSIRO joining the meeting by video link.

Renewables and biofuels are identified as an emerging export market in the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.

Image credit: QUT