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Japan's Suiso Frontier sets sail for Kobe with liquid hydrogen cargo


First-of-a-kind liquid hydrogen shipment

Pilot to help determine feasibility

H2 from coal gasification, CCS considered

  • Author
  • Henry Edwardes-Evans
  • Editor
  • Alisdair Bowles
  • Commodity
  • Coal Energy Transition LNG Natural Gas Petrochemicals
  • Topic
  • Energy Transition Environment and Sustainability Hydrogen: Beyond the Hype

The Suiso Frontier has set sail from the Australian port of Hastings and is heading to Kobe, Japan with the world's first cargo of liquefied hydrogen, a spokesperson for the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain told S&P Global Platts Jan. 28.

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The cargo is seen as a crucial pilot shipment for what in future could be regular flows of low- or zero-carbon hydrogen from Australia to the higher-priced demand center of Japan.

"This project will determine the feasibility of liquid hydrogen supply chains in the long term. It also demonstrates Japan's ambitions to support hydrogen development by establishing key hydrogen trade routes," said Ankit Sachan, Hydrogen and Energy Transition Analyst, S&P Global Platts Analytics

The vessel, manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), has capacity of 1,250 cubic meters, equating to 75 metric tons of liquid hydrogen.

About 70% of the vessel's capacity was to be loaded, Yuko Fukuma, Senior Staff Officer at KHI, told Platts Jan. 21.

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Hydrogen liquefies at minus 253 degrees Celsius, a much lower temperatures than for natural gas (minus 160 C), making the process more energy intensive compared to LNG. At the same time, the energy density of hydrogen is around 40% that of natural gas on a volumetric basis.

It would be some time before the viability of transporting liquid hydrogen became apparent, said Anton Ferkov, Platts' Hydrogen Content Pricing Specialist.

"Liquefied hydrogen would compete with ammonia and methylcyclohexane as a carrier to transport hydrogen molecules. However, there are additional costs associated with taking out the hydrogen molecules from ammonia and methylcyclohexane as well. Some industry experts are of view that we might have several different methods of hydrogen transportation emerging at the same time," Ferkov said.

Gasification with CCS

KHI is a part of the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) along with partners Electric Power Development, Iwatani Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, AGL Energy and Sumitomo Corporation.

Shell, ENEOS Corporation and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K-Line) are involved in the Japanese portion of the project.

The A$500 million ($359 million) project is jointly funded by Australian and Japanese governments and has been producing hydrogen from coal gasification in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria from January 2021. The hydrogen is trucked to a liquefaction facility at Hastings.

HESC aims to produce 225,000 mt/year of carbon neutral liquefied hydrogen in a commercial phase seen around 2030.

"We are pursuing hydrogen from coal with CCS because producing hydrogen through electrolysis is currently more expensive," HESC says on its website.

Platts assessed the price of hydrogen (Victoria, gasification with CCS, including capex) at $2.86/kg Jan. 27.

This compared to an assessment of $5.05/kg for PEM electrolysis-based hydrogen (Victoria, including capex).