Japan and Australia have taken their first steps to create new export industry which will convert the world’s most polluting fuel, coal, into its cleanest, hydrogen, and ship it in liquefied form from Australia to Japan. The $350 million experiment is based on a vast reserve of low-grade coal in Victoria, which was for decades the southern state’s major source of electricity, until most of the power plants were closed because of the pollution they generated. The coal-to-hydrogen process has its critics because it requires mining coal and the disposal of carbon dioxide produced as a by-product. But if the trial works, it could be the start of a major new industry which will displace some of the coal Australia currently exports with hydrogen, a fuel gaining support as a source of power for vehicles and industry. A consortium of Japanese companies, led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and including Marubeni, Iwatani and J-Power, has been instrumental, with the aid of the Japanese government in the creation of the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain. Forbes

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