Aussie PM: Coal to Hydrogen Plant Part of the Seamless Transition to Clean Energy

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Geoff Sherrington – Coal is being rehabilitated as an essential component of the clean energy future.

World-first coal to hydrogen plant trial launched in Victoria

ABC Gippsland By Kellie Lazzaro

Updated Thu at 2:03pm

A world-first trial to use brown coal to make hydrogen has been launched in Victoria’s east as a pilot ‘clean energy’ project that is expected to create 400 jobs — but critics and coal industry experts alike said new measures will be needed to tackle the carbon emissions generated.

A demonstration plant will be built in the Latrobe Valley as part of the $496 million project to develop technology to produce hydrogen from the region’s vast reserves of coal.

The hydrogen would be shipped from the Port of Hastings to Japan under the deal with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, J-Power, Iwatani Corporation, Marubeni and the Japanese Government.

The Federal and Victorian Governments are providing $100 million towards the cost of the trial.

Speaking from the launch at Loy Yang mine, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said hydrogen was a fuel of the future.

It is critically important that we invest in energy sources of the future and that we affect the transition from older forms of [energy] generation to new forms of generation and we do so seamlessly.”

“This is about new technology, partnering with the Japanese to come up with not only carbon capture and storage, but a way of converting this into hydrogen and making it a fuel of the future,” Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison said.

Read more:

Coal to hydrogen is not a new idea, the Water-gas shift reaction was discovered in 1780 by Italian Chemist Felice Fontana.

There are still some kinks to be worked out. The process to generate hydrogen from coal produces a monstrous amount of CO2 – far more CO2 per unit of useful energy than simply burning the coal would produce. But with hydrogen production, unlike hydrocarbon combustion, all the CO2 is produced in one place. This creates an opportunity for carbon sequestration, when technologies to sequester carbon on such an impressive scale are developed.

Creating a clean hydrogen economy will provide the assurance of an ongoing market demand for this potentially zero carbon product, which may spur the development of supply chain solutions like sequestration of the vast clouds of CO2 emitted when the hydrogen is produced.

I’m sure we all look forward to joining hands with and celebrating with our new green friends that coal is no longer the enemy; coal is now an essential component of our zero carbon future.

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Les Francis
April 13, 2018 3:55 am

That same Gippsland brown coal was being processed into town gas pre the 1970’s.
The discovery of natural gas off the East Gippsland coast and the provision of this to the state of Victoria was overall cheaper to tap than coal gas.
There is literally hundreds of years supply of brown coal under Gippsland Victoria. But. it has a low calorific value compared to black coal and is of no use for export.
Good for conversion to town gas, fuel or hydrogen.
But I highly doubt whether the Greens will let the government process it.
if the political Greens don’t block it the ferals certainly will.

Reply to  Les Francis
April 13, 2018 6:35 am

Labor are desperate for money and to replace the jobs in the LaTrobe Valley they destroyed with their increased coal tax.

Reply to  Ve2
April 15, 2018 8:03 am

Labor is desperate for power in parliament and the Unions are desperate for numbers so they can control the ALP even more …..Labor is also desperate for money to fudge election campaigns but they can get it by using taxpayers money as a loan at election time and pay it back later without interest or police charges.
That’s what Labor is desperate for ….

charles nelson
Reply to  Les Francis
April 13, 2018 4:21 pm

This is terrible news…when hydrogen is burned as fuel a potent ‘greenhouse gas’ is produced and released into the atmosphere!

Reply to  charles nelson
April 14, 2018 9:54 am

Maybe somebody can find a way to make the dihydro-oxygen waste produced be useful in some way! 8>)

Reply to  Les Francis
April 13, 2018 10:38 pm

I think you have that wrong. Town gas was being made from black coal brought in from NSW. Brown Coal was used to make briquettes which were shipped through out Victoria by rail to be fed into boilers for steam production such as canning in Shepparton. I believe the cement works at Traralgon was using coke from the Footscray gas works (which used black coal from Newcastle).
Most of the hydrogen (element) in brown coal is tied up in water molecules of moisture. The brown coal of Yallourn, Morwell and Hazelwood has 55-60 % moisture. The Brown coal at Loy Yang (beyond Traralgon) has about 66% moisture. When one distills the dried coal the first gases to come off are CO2 and CO. It is possible to make a char from brown coal briquettes. That is done now for what is called BBQ heat beads. . These are expensive for large scale use. One supposes the the hot char could be sprayed with steam to produce CO2 and H2 but it would be extremely wasteful process The yield would be very low.
It would be less costly to use black coal which has a much higher yield and lower processing costs. But even that would be still be less costly than making hydrogen form natural gas (mainly methane) which is the major way it is done now.

Reply to  cementafriend
April 13, 2018 10:44 pm

meant to put more costly in the second last line, Methane is CR4 and this can be catalytically cracked.

Reply to  Les Francis
April 14, 2018 2:49 am

well town gas and a supply to other rural areas in vic would be nice.
as i see it right now were funding taxbucks and aus isnt going to benefit much more than a few jobs.( the co2 disposal may as well be the japanese problem in fact we may as well just mine the coal and flog it off n let them do whatever. at least we get mine work and trucking n port workers employed
without the climate crapola)
while the product, like our LNG is going to sell OS for a pittance while we run short and pay insane high prices..and trunbull can mouthoff all he likes about his deals with the gas producers supplying us- the price is still a ripoff and supply is limited to us.
shutting the coal turbines down and dismantling the plant in amazingly fast times just like SA with pt Augustas being trashed..then spending mega mil to try n find a replacement power source..
the present vic govt is on shaky ground

Bob in Castlemaine
Reply to  Les Francis
April 14, 2018 8:16 pm

The Lurgi Plant located at Morwell in the Latrobe Valley produced gas from brown coal for use in Melbourne from the late 1950s until the late 1960s when Melbourne converted to the use of natural gas, methane obtained from the Victorian offshore gas wells of Bass Strait. Lurgi Plant gas was used to supplement the conventionally produced town gas used in the Melbourne gas reticulation system.

Reply to  Les Francis
April 15, 2018 8:42 am

Obviously this is an economic ploy to create an export product. The ‘monstrous amount’ of CO2 created is not a problem when the number crunchers add up the exports. I was always amazed that Aussie land exported wood.

April 13, 2018 3:55 am

Sounds expensive.

Reply to  Heath
April 13, 2018 2:26 pm

“Sounds expensive.”
I agree, and would like to append this to every ‘greenmunist (aka watermelon) bright spark idea’ sighted on here [never mind other sites] – if you haven’t already done so.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Heath
April 13, 2018 6:27 pm

“…the $496 million project to develop technology to produce hydrogen from the region’s vast reserves of coal.”
Notice that there was not an alternative project cost mentioned which would have produced cheap electricity with little pollution out of the “vast reserves of coal” for half a century. Something to stabilize their ailing grid for sure.
Instead they’ll need extra electric power to convert coal to hydrogen and they’ll have the same or worse waste disposal problems as the power industry. Am I missing something?

Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 13, 2018 9:55 pm

Hi Pop.
You are on the right track.
This coal-to-hydrogen project is reverse alchemy – like turning gold into lead. 🙂
Regards, Allan

Science or Fiction
Reply to  Heath
April 14, 2018 11:04 pm

Absolutely, and the energy efficiency of this whole process will be very low. Which means that a lot of the energy contained in the coal will be lost in the process. From a safety point of view Hydrogen also poses a huge risk for explosions.

Robert of Texas
April 13, 2018 3:58 am

So they are going to produce more carbon dioxide, produce less energy per unit of coal extracted, and then capture the CO2 and store it…uh…somehow (a miracle happens here), and this is progress? Oh, and ship hydrogen around as a fuel, which has a far lower density of energy so will likely require more energy to ship it…
I wonder what energy they will be using to power the process, scrub the CO2, and sequester it? And then pressurize the hydrogen, and move it to ships, and the ship it to Japan? Surely all wind power.

F. Leghorn
Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 13, 2018 5:29 am

1. Brown coal.
2. ?
3. Profit!

Reply to  F. Leghorn
April 13, 2018 6:06 am

1. Brown coal.
2. Government grants and green tax money
3. Profit!

J Mac
Reply to  F. Leghorn
April 13, 2018 10:14 am

1. Brown coal.
2. Government grants and green tax money
3. Non-Profit!
4. Tax payer monies pissed down the drain!
5. Carbon sequestration starves plants!
6. Smug, virtue-signalling socialism emboldened!

Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 13, 2018 5:53 am

They should use the hydrogen they produce for all of the energy needed for the whole process. I suspect that there would be little if any hydrogen left over. IOW the scheme is a very expensive dud. You can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time, but sometimes it feels like the greens can fool all politicians, journalists and universities all of the time.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
April 13, 2018 11:43 am

“sometimes it feels like the greens can fool all politicians, journalists and universities all of the time.”
Its easy to fool someone who wants to be fooled.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
April 16, 2018 5:08 am

The problem is that none of them ever took an economics course.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 13, 2018 7:25 am

Nearly a half century ago at the beginning of the apocalypse, I took a thermodynamics short course to help understand the hype. The instructor blew up a balloon with hydrogen and put a lighter to it. Hold a drag race demonstration with an electric car.
An engineer who spent his life designing gas pipeline facilities, including carbon dioxide, pointed out how small the molecule was. Tolerances are much better, nevertheless he would not go near a hydrogen powered vehicle.
Do any of these earth savers ever get asked about entropy?

Curious George
Reply to  HDHoese
April 13, 2018 8:05 am

Carbon sequestration is the technology of future, when the second law of thermodynamics finally gets overturned. Many lawmakers are actively working on it.

michael hart
Reply to  HDHoese
April 13, 2018 3:51 pm

The main reason for the Third Law of Thermodynamics is that it formally kills the ‘lawyer’s objection to the Second Law’. That is, the lawyer contends that the Second Law will not hold at zero Kelvin. The Third Law states that it is not possible to reach zero Kelvin (in a finite number of steps). I’m really not aware of any other practical application of the Third Law, but if it defeats the lawyers then it is surely worth its place in the text books.

Reply to  HDHoese
April 13, 2018 4:22 pm

Hansen overturned the second law with his portrayal of “back radiation”:
He was able to conjure 324W/sq.m radiating from the cold atmosphere to the warmer surface below. So Climatologists have defied the second law for a long time.

Reply to  HDHoese
April 13, 2018 5:37 pm

The laws of thermodynamics often do not apply to energy transfers ruled by the laws of quantum. Thermodynamics applies to macro systems — ones comprised of many molecular quantum systems. Thus an IR photon emitted from a cold CO2 molecule can be absorbed by a warmer surface. But the net energy transfer in this way obeys thermodynamics and must go from cold to warm. Note more IR is being emitted from the surface than absorbed by it.

Reply to  HDHoese
April 14, 2018 2:18 am

Thus an IR photon emitted from a cold CO2 molecule can be absorbed by a warmer surface.

This is another fairy tale with no basis in measurement. How is it possible to have an error of 18W/sq.m in the unmeasured back radiation (an error 300 times the supposed rate of net surface energy of 0.6W/sq.m) in successive IPCC reports:
Consider a situation where I have an insulated tank holding liquid hydrogen at -260C. The tank has a vacuum sealed window of 1sq.m area that can be exposed to a clear night sky. Inside surfaces of the tank are black. When the window is closed the tank requires 200W to be removed to maintain temperature. How much cooling will be required when the window is uncovered to maintain the same temperature? Show the calculations.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 13, 2018 9:45 am

The sheer volume of willful ignorance in the press release is mind boggling. I truly believe Mr. Worral’s keyboard would have caught fire if he hadn’t continuously cooled it by laughing so hard.

Gary M
Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 13, 2018 10:36 am

I was told, and it makes sense to me, that hydrogen is NOT a fuel – more like a battery!

Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 13, 2018 4:13 pm
April 13, 2018 3:59 am

Hi Eric,
For 30 years I worked with others with modest success at finding and developing new Australian mineral resources. Our little team found a dozen new mines all over the country and several are continuing to provide new national wealth. A colleague recently calculated that, in 2015 dollars and mineral prices, the value of sales to date has been $Aust 62,400 million dollars, a substantial amount, with a similar amount possible again from future sales.
It therefore is with dismay that I see ill-informed decisions being made by government after government. We see little sign of the sciences involved in mineral exploration being used, advanced, even recognised in a useful way to advance the Nation.
The current all party political blindness to the beneficial properties of the mineral,coal, is particularly galling. Coal will continue to power the greater part of Australian industry for decades. How many decades depends on when governments realise how wrong they have been in the unfair, unbalanced, even punitive path to combat their wrong impressions of the global warming hypothesis. It will also depend on how demand for electricity in all forms of generation falls as industries line up to leave my country for other countries where contributions to new wealth are welcomed, not derided. Geoff.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 13, 2018 9:58 am

It would be funny if it wasn’t so expensive.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 13, 2018 1:25 pm

There is so much of this stuff that is just falling down, rolling-around knee-crawling hilarious without being the least bit funny.

michael hart
Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 13, 2018 4:28 pm

I entirely agree with Geoff’s thoughts.
Then, when I put on my realpolitik hat, I sometimes wonder if we shouldn’t maybe go along with such hydrogen-from-coal schemes because it will at least maintain a base-load of qualified engineers and scientists. These people and skills will be needed when sanity returns and when you can’t give wind farms away at less than cost because of maintenance and clean-up costs for an energy supply that can’t fulfil what is needed 24/7, 365 days of the year. But if the entire coal industry dies, then the nation will have to buy back expertise from China/India at a much higher cost in the future.
We have seen similar things happen in the UK back in the 70’sand 80’s with, say, automotive engineering and production. The native bulk car industry effectively died (for a variety of reasons, some of which also affected other countries to varying extents) and was then re-imported from Japan, but such declines were managed much better in France and other continental European nations. The UK was lucky in that we had gushing North Sea oil revenues to keep governments afloat and somewhat solvent. That is not likely to be available now as today’s governments go about butchering remaining industries in the name of environmentalism as they simultaneously imagine that finance jobs in the City of London will save us and lead us into the brave new world. Do they think that other countries can’t also do finance?

April 13, 2018 4:06 am

Sounds like a very efficient poverty generating system.

Reply to  Alasdair
April 13, 2018 2:58 pm

And that appears to be precisely the objective.
And poverty – in a cooling environment – will, soon enough, allide to ‘the patient feels no pain’; ‘the patient is dead’.
Oh – look. Goodness me.
And dare I ask if that might be the objective for the more long-sighted of the water-melons?
Ideal outcome, seemingly, is a global population of <750 million.
Perhaps <500 million.
And most of the survivors will be servants or (ah) concubines of the privileged elite few million.
[Perhaps Algorerithms will be used to select the Selected Mannkind. Or not; it'll be who you know!!!]
Not good news for 90% of the world's population , overall . . .

Paul Penrose
April 13, 2018 4:10 am

This is not an energy source, it is simply a scheme to convert a real source (coal) into another form (hydrogen gas), which is easier to burn in internal combustion engines. The entire process is actually quite energy inefficient and the resulting product is low density and hard to store. Hydrogen powered cars are more problematic than electric powered cars and are less energy efficient at the end of the day. So this is just more green washing at tax payers expense.

Harry S
Reply to  Paul Penrose
April 13, 2018 8:27 am

It’s a political scheme and nothing more. As end-of-the-world Greens and their in-pocket politicians like Turnbull and his minions are confronted by the reality that wind and solar are ineffective, they are scrambling for even more ineffective and elaborate proposals in desperation to save their political hides.

Reply to  Harry S
April 13, 2018 12:49 pm

‘Pathways To Deep Decarbonization In Australia’, 2014, 52 pages
Written by: Climate Works Australia
Re: Climate change

Reply to  Harry S
April 13, 2018 5:53 pm

UN Agenda21
UN Sustainable Development
Australia: Agenda21
Click on any section on the webpage.
UN Agenda21 New Zealand at:
More on the internet on this topic including countries.

Cold in Wisconsin
Reply to  Paul Penrose
April 13, 2018 8:27 am

There is another conversion experiment taking place: converting a real energy source, using someone else’s money, and converting it into your own money. That seems to work.

Reply to  Paul Penrose
April 13, 2018 1:29 pm

But it will accelerate the date at which taxpayers will have become paupers who can no longer fund government boondoggles of this kind or of any other kind. Governments are poverty generating systems..

Berényi Péter
Reply to  CDN Hockey (@CDNSHockeyFan)
April 13, 2018 5:01 am

Why, can’t you see the wind turbine above the helicopter? At least it has three blades as well, so it must be wind driven.

April 13, 2018 4:24 am

The simple lesson of the last 100 years is that coal is a great resource, as long as you just burn it as coal. The best chemists in the world (the Germans) couldn’t find a viable way to turn coal into auto fuel or aviation fuel. The South Africans also tried when they were worried about being cut off from world oil supplies. All of that fell apart when normal trade resumed (in both Germany and South Africa).
I’ve lived in Victoria for more than half my life, and I’ve seen these brown coal schemes come and go. We could be burning our coal to have the cheapest electricity in Australia, instead somebody’s tax dollars will be wasted on a completely pointless exercise.

Reply to  rubberduck
April 13, 2018 4:46 am

Actually, the coal to fuel South African business is in a niche (*), but alive and well.
Doesn’t change your basic conclusion, though.
(*) high quality fuel (low sulfur etc.), justifying higher price

Dr. Bob
Reply to  paqyfelyc
April 13, 2018 8:02 am

Sasol in South Africa actually produces 300,000 bbl/day of hydrocarbon products from coal. They have developed processes to produce synthetic waxes and now own much of that market space. They also produce a wide range of solvents of exceptional quality as well as being the first company to produce synthetic jet fuel for the fuel starved Johannesburg airport. All in all, they have made their coal resources very valuable to their economy. This cannot be done everywhere, but it can be done profitably in a number of locations.

Warren Blair
Reply to  rubberduck
April 13, 2018 4:17 pm

Yes like the Brown Coal Liquefaction Victoria (BCLV) Morwell project.
Now this 100 million un-commercial waste of taxpayers money.
Corruption again; a political donation will underpins this criminal waste of our money!

April 13, 2018 4:24 am

I admit I lack the necessary chemical knowledge, but I wonder if it wouldn’t be more efficient to produce some form of natural gas (hydrocarbons)? Of course, the awful CO2 would be much harder to ‘sequester’ and the virtue signalling lost. (In a normal world the plants would benefit form this, but…..)

Reply to  NorwegianSceptic
April 13, 2018 4:26 am

‘form’ –> ‘from’ …. (yes, grammar na%i……) 🙂

Reply to  NorwegianSceptic
April 13, 2018 4:50 am

well, the most efficient would simply be to stop bothering about this expensive low grade fuel, until higher grade, cheaper fuels really run out. In a century or so. Could well be that, by then, solar or nuclear energy are cheap enough to let it in the ground for, like, …ever.

April 13, 2018 4:46 am

They built a carbon black plant in Nebraska that cracks natural gas. They built it next to a coal fired generating station they converted to run on natural gas. The hydrogen is burned in the turbines and the carbon is sequestered as carbon-black. It makes economic sense because there is a market for carbon-black. I don’t suppose there would be much carbon-black market left if everybody built plants like this.
I don’t think this Australian manufacturing experiment makes any economic sense.

Reply to  willybamboo
April 13, 2018 5:49 am

The methane or coal to carbon black and hydrogen is actually the best way to sequester “carbon”. Mold it into bricks and put it back in the coal mines. Probably the smartest carbon sequestration scheme there its. Much less intensive and dangerous that trying to bury carbon dioxide.
As far as hydrogen goes, burning coal and using the electricity of produce hydrogen makes mores sense. Electrolysis is more efficient than thernal electricity. 2 electrons= 1 hydrogen and 2 oxygen molecule. If you must, waste the energy producing liquid hydrogen and oxygen as fuel. More efficient than batteries.

Reply to  Philo
April 13, 2018 6:30 am

The methane or coal to carbon black
Coal is carbon black with a small amount of hydrogen.

Loren Wilson
Reply to  Philo
April 13, 2018 11:37 am

The most efficient way to make H2 is used all over the world, and involves burning the coal to CO, and then reacting the CO with steam at high temperature to make CO2 and H2. This is more efficient than electrolysis. If you want to capture the CO2, then the efficiency of any coal-fired process is cut nearly in half. This means your electric bill doubles.

Reply to  Philo
April 13, 2018 12:55 pm

Good point. The energy we harvest comes from the combining of the ‘carbon black’ with oxygen. This produces an exothermic reaction that results in CO2

Reply to  Philo
April 14, 2018 10:28 am

Mine coal. Convert it into coal. Take the new coal and put it back into the coal mine.
Take the cash. Burn it. Put the ashes in a coal mine. Thousands of jobs created.

Reply to  Philo
April 16, 2018 1:55 pm

Is it possible to make synfuel then convert it to coal?

Reply to  s-t
April 16, 2018 3:27 pm


Is it possible to make synfuel then convert it to coal?

Well, yes, it is possible. (Long time at low to medium heat and great pressure in a non-oxidizing atmosphere free of other contaminates) But it makes as much economic sense as burning diamonds to heat your house.

Bruce Cobb
April 13, 2018 5:11 am

If only they could bottle and harness the Stupid evidenced by energy schemes like this one.

Eric Elsam
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 13, 2018 3:47 pm

Good idea. Then we could sequester the Stupid and solve many problems..

Robert from oz
April 13, 2018 5:12 am

Our Victoriastan laws prohibit gas extraction but apparently it’s ok to pump gas into the ground , seems like a double standard .

April 13, 2018 5:26 am

What will the tankers they intend using to transport this to Japan be using as fuel?
AFAIK there are no cargo ships which use hydrogen currently. With the most common engine type being diesel, which can’t be converted to hydrogen operation.

Reply to  mpe8691
April 13, 2018 6:19 am

Marine turbines can run on H2 if need be, though I’m not sure how much power you can get from one compared to burning CH4 or kerosene. It might be better to use H2 powered fuel cells to run marine electric motors. Due to H2’s low energy density, either way you may end up burning half the H2 just getting there.

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  rbabcock
April 13, 2018 7:49 am

And the other half getting back ? 😉

Don K
Reply to  mpe8691
April 13, 2018 10:30 am

Hydrogen is a perfectly OK fuel, but whether compressed or liquified, it’s very bulky You’d need BIG ships to move it. It’d probably make more sense to ship the coal to Japan and “create” the Hydrogen there.
There are alternatives involve blimps full of hydrogen where the lift gas is also the payload. But I doubt they’d be economically viable.

Malcolm Carter
Reply to  Don K
April 13, 2018 11:16 am

There are concerns that hydrogen causes the embrittlement and failure of metals as it penetrates into the metal lattice. Probably not a good replacement for hydrocarbon fuels.

Reply to  Don K
April 15, 2018 3:56 pm

Hydrogen is a lousy fuel for many reasons. Even in space, where every kilo counts, it often ends up better to use less efficient fuels because of all hydrogen’s problems.
SpaceX, for example, doesn’t use it, in part because it’s easier to build a bigger rocket stage than make a hydrogen stage easily reusable.

April 13, 2018 5:47 am

I suspect that if it made economic sense, they would have been doing it a long time ago.

April 13, 2018 5:48 am

Poverty generation?
Looking at large scale carbon capture using proven coal combustion and carbon capture technology:
Dry heat sink
Average Ambient weather conditions
Pulverized low sulfur coal
Identical amount of coal combusted
No carbon capture: Gross power generated = 931 MW, Aux load = 68 MW, Net power sold = 863 MW
90% Carbon Capture: Gross power generated = 806 MW, Aux load = 179 MW, Net power sold = 627 MW
Net electrical efficiency: 90% carbon capture only 72.6% as efficient as no carbon capture
Capital cost to construct: 90% carbon capture on pulverized coal unit = 163% (say an additional $820 million in 2018 dollars for the carbon capture feature)
Side effects of Air Quality Control systems used:
SOx scrubber = limestone + water use. Limestone production/transportation generates CO2. Water use if from natural source is an environmental negative. If grey water could be argued to be an environmental positive.
NOx removal (SCR): Natural gas is process to make ammonia, CO2 intensive. Ammonia slip out the stack kills plants (Nitrogen burn, not talked about in the MSM) Transportation generates CO2
Powered Activated Carbon for Hg removal: Contaminates fly ash which is then no good for reuse as material to make concrete. Net environmental negative.
CO2 solvent slip: more pollution fouling the air for no clear purpose and sure to have detrimental side effects. CO2 generated in solvent production and transportation. Environmental negative.
CO2 capture/reuse: Deep well injection to recover oil. Oil is used for transportation thus more CO2 but instead of using CO2 from natural source it’s not at least being recycled from a human made source. Some of the CO2 that is deep well injected escapes with the oil that is recovered.
I’m all for clean air, water and food but these ideas need to look at the big picture, not just for the profit of the rule makers at expense of the environment and working class economy. Would be interesting to see a complete energy and mass and economic balance on the various options for producing “clean energy.”
My guess is you don’t get something for nothing and likely most effective means of dealing with emissions would be less humans and more trees.

Curious George
Reply to  Meigs
April 13, 2018 8:39 am

Has this technology been proven outside of LaLaLand?

Ed Reid
Reply to  Meigs
April 13, 2018 8:54 am

Fewer humans, fewer meat animals and more trees are all part of the grand scheme. Interestingly, there is very little discussion of the preferred approaches to achieving fewer humans.

Reply to  Ed Reid
April 13, 2018 11:56 am

Nor is there much discussion about who gets to be the “fewer humans”.

April 13, 2018 5:51 am

If the carbon isn’t being burned, this is another waste.

April 13, 2018 5:53 am

1948, Yallourn Gasification Plant.
Watch as Labor ushers us into a brave new world.

April 13, 2018 5:54 am

IDEA: Use hydrogen zeppelins to transport all that hydrogen across the ocean to Japan!
The cargo would be lifting the ship!
When one of them explodes and crashes over Tokyo we’ll get more cool video footage like the Hindenburg.

Alastair Brickell
Reply to  TDBraun
April 13, 2018 6:10 am

April 13, 2018 at 5:54 am
What a brilliant idea!
Sounds like a one way trip for the Zeppelins though…can we put Al Gore on the first one? That would really be cleaning up the planet.

Reply to  Alastair Brickell
April 13, 2018 7:53 am

Not Big Al, let’s put Leonardo DiCaprio on the first one.
It’ll look great on his resume. He’s already gone down with the Titanic, now he can go down with the Hindenburg.

Reply to  TDBraun
April 13, 2018 8:27 am

E Musk can install the autopilot system.

April 13, 2018 6:04 am

So now we’re into depleting oxygen to produce more water. Suggestion: simply get in line and buy several small modular molten salt nuclear reactors and simplify your life and produce the lowest cost power.

Retired Kit P
Reply to  arthur4563
April 13, 2018 10:16 am

There is no line for modular molten salt nuclear reactors.
There is a line for LWR. For example, the 1600 MWe EPR that I worked at in China loaded fuel fuel this week. For practical purposes, the line starts when a billion dollars is forked over by someone other than the goverment to take a conceptual design to a final design approved by regulators for construction.
The next step in the line is site approval for that design. I just read where the US NRC approved construction for two reactors in Florida for the Westinghouse AP1000 design. Of course construction will not start until the price of hydrogen increases.
In this case, four hydrogen atoms are attached to a carbon atom. The line for nukes will remain short in places that have cheap methane.

Reply to  arthur4563
April 13, 2018 10:37 am

The ‘Water-gas shift reaction’ uses oxygen from water vapor to bind to CO (creating CO2). Then when the Hydrogen is burnt (or whatever reaction is used), water is re-crated. No lost O2, and no net loss in H2O.

April 13, 2018 6:18 am

The only problem is that coal is not a hydrocarbon. Unlike oil or gas, coal contains no hydrogen.
What next. Turn gold into lead.

Reply to  ferdberple
April 13, 2018 6:47 am

ferdberple, other than anthracite, all other coals contains some “volatiles” like methane, which is a hydrocarbon.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  ferdberple
April 13, 2018 8:37 am

Too late, that ship sailed when wind turbine operators persuaded the stupids to bankroll their renewable alchemy.

Reply to  ferdberple
April 13, 2018 10:01 am

ferdberple April 13, 2018 at 6:18 am
The only problem is that coal is not a hydrocarbon. Unlike oil or gas, coal contains no hydrogen.

Actually Fred it does, average chemical composition of coal is (CH)n, that’s how for about a century we were able to destructively distill coal to produce ‘coal gas’ which was piped to every household in the country, only replaced when ‘natural gas’ became cheaply available.

Reply to  ferdberple
April 13, 2018 10:35 am

The ‘Water-gas shift reaction’ gets it’s hydrogen from water vapor.

April 13, 2018 6:25 am

What a waste of good energy!!!
Carbon bashing is a fantastic example of mass hysteria and the ability of a flawed and corrupt educationalist system to brainwash innocents.

Reply to  MR166
April 13, 2018 8:02 am

Exactly. We don’t need to mitigate carbon dioxide. We don’t need to sequester carbon. We don’t need a zero carbon future. The fact that the indoctrinated seem to think that those are imperatives is testament to a complete failure or hijacking of science education.

April 13, 2018 6:27 am

Mr PM, I have a nice bridge I can sell you.

Reply to  Hivemind
April 14, 2018 7:00 pm

Hivemind .
What about a gang plank

Mark from the Midwest
April 13, 2018 6:29 am

So I see that Rube Goldberg has found his way into the energy production business.

April 13, 2018 6:51 am

From the article: “The process to generate hydrogen from coal produces a monstrous amount of CO2 – far more CO2 per unit of useful energy than simply burning the coal would produce.”
So, if it turns out that CO2 has no detrimental effect on the Earth’s atmosphere temperature-wise, and since CO2 is good for the Earth’s plant life (the more the better), we can use this process of converting coal to hydrogen to introduce large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere to keep the Earth’s plants and animals happy.

Reply to  TA
April 13, 2018 7:04 am

OR,,,,we could just burn it directly to produce electricity and wind up with a much better EROI.

Reply to  TA
April 13, 2018 10:32 am

TA, the problem with your solution is that it requires government money. It is a net drain on the economy. Unlike burning coal that adds to the GDP, this solution subtracts form the GDP.

April 13, 2018 7:03 am

The Andrews Labor government forced the closures of Hazelwood by doubling the royalties on coal, will those same royalties apply to the hydrogen venture or is this just a desperate attempt to claw back lost votes in a Labor stronghold?

April 13, 2018 7:26 am

This project is nonsensical.
Hydrogen is nothing but mobile electricity. (More expensive because mobility has a price.)
The arguments for using coal to produce hydrogen presented in this paper are equally valid for using coal to produce electricity. So why are the same people who are shutting down coal fired power plants now supporting coal for ‘mobile electricity’?
My guess is it is because they are simply clueless.

Reply to  dh-mtl
April 13, 2018 10:31 am

I don’t think they are clueless. I am sure they feel they need to figure out how to generate tax revenue from all that coal while looking green. They have pitched this as a magical green solution.

April 13, 2018 7:37 am

Whenever any project needs special government financial assistance or needs being subsidised by taxpayers, it is almost certain that project is not viable.

April 13, 2018 7:44 am

Boy, this all really takes me back.
Back in the 80’s, I was a full on believer in the whole End of Oil/Peak Oil meme. And this kind of Hydrogen Economy stuff was promoted as a major part of the solution along side Renewables like Wind and Solar in places like Popular Science.
Ironically here we are some 3 decades later, no closer to achieving the dream of ‘Clean’ energy, yet still pushing it as the solution to a completely different (and nearly opposite) world threatening Scare.

Miso Alkalaj
April 13, 2018 8:23 am

It seems that this would be the most “carbon intensive” industry in Australia, i.e., the lowest income per CO2 released – while at the same time the same government is blowing up coal power plants to “lower carbon footprint.” Or am I missing something?

Tony Mckenna
April 13, 2018 8:35 am

I love the $496m estimate. Less than half a billion, a bargain. But as RR might have said, “Half a billion here, half a billion there, pretty soon you are talking real money”.

Reply to  Tony Mckenna
April 13, 2018 12:04 pm

I think it was Everett M. Dirksen who is supposed to have said “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money,”

Reply to  Ricdre
April 14, 2018 3:26 pm

It was indeed Everett M. Dirksen. However it was a million here….

Dr. Bob
April 13, 2018 8:47 am

Even compressed to 700 bar (10,290 psi), hydrogen has only 1/4 the energy density of conventional diesel fuel. Thus the volume required to motivate a vehicle has to be much larger than needed with conventional hydrocarbon fuels. This and the much higher complexity of using hydrogen as a fuel make it impractical. A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle needs both a fuel cell and a battery storage as the fuel cell is not available instantly. It must first heat up to operational temperature before it can convert H2 to electrons. Fuels cells are constant load devices that don’t work well in variable load applications, especially short trip scenarios where heating and cooling cycles predominate. Plus they are not yet reliable nor cost effective. I would put the fuel cell/battery hybrid vehicle engine cost at 5-8X that of a gasoline engine of similar power output.

Reply to  Dr. Bob
April 13, 2018 9:08 am

The storage system for hydrogen for mobile transportation uses metal hydrides, which, I believe results in an energy density for storage similar to liquid fuels.

Curious George
Reply to  Dr. Bob
April 13, 2018 9:20 am

Don’t worry about Chinese problems. At U.S. universities, Asians are top students.

April 13, 2018 8:50 am

But what about all that water vapour you get when you burn hydrogen? Isn’t that a very potent greenhouse gas? I’m so confused 🙂

April 13, 2018 8:55 am

comment image
Are they planning to burn it???

Miso Alkalaj
April 13, 2018 8:56 am

Back in July 2010 I was flying on a helicopter from Heron Island to Gladstone. As we approached the coast, we saw several Chinese carriers moored off-shore and the pilot announced “We sell most of our coal to the Chinese and thereby lower our carbon footprint.” We were still pretty high above the water, it would not be wise to agitate the pilot – so I didn’t ask him “What do you think that the Chinese do with this coal?”
My guess is that Mr. Turnbull can actually convince such voters that his coal to hydrogen plant is another way of lowering Australia’s carbon footprint.

Reply to  Miso Alkalaj
April 13, 2018 9:09 am

Being a pilot one would surmise that he was an educated person. Yet he is still very ignorant. This stuff is closer to a religion than real science.

April 13, 2018 9:17 am

Don’t worry fellow world citizens, we here in California have it all figured out! You see, this month on our PG&E utility bills we will receive a “climate credit”, which is our share of the loot from extorting carbon credits from industry. Making a small group of customers pay more for electricity while allowing most others pay less, with tax dollars to administer the program, will surely solve the dreaded climate change problem.

April 13, 2018 9:23 am

Reasonable isolation from the environment, and a reduced “green” blight factor.

Stephen Richards
April 13, 2018 9:31 am

the NAZIs tried this in WWII? They were desperate

Alan Tomalty
April 13, 2018 9:40 am

“coal is now an essential component of our zero carbon future”
I shudder in horror at that statement.

Thomas Homer
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
April 13, 2018 10:46 am

Carbon Dioxide is THE ‘essential component’ of the Carbon Cycle of Life.
Why would carbon based life forms yearn for a ‘zero carbon future’?

April 13, 2018 9:41 am

“Yes, anti-pipeline Vancouver really is North America’s largest exporter of coal
A city dead set against expanding petroleum exports is decidedly less irked about another type of fossil fuel”

April 13, 2018 9:59 am

I support electric cars, but for reasons that have nothing to do with the CO2 warming hoax.
1. Electric cars are less polluting (not even considering CO2)
– They is much less pollution at the point of use.
– The pollution at the point of electricity generation is concentrated and thus easier to deal with.
2. Electric cars are more energy efficient, including the step of electricity generation. The question is to not lose this advantage in storage and transportation.
3. Electric cars enable diversification of the primary sources of energy for transportation. Virtually any primary source can be used for electricity generation.
The major impediment to the broad use of electric cars (and trucks) is the cost of infrastructure. The cost of charging stations and power systems will be higher than the cost of the cars themselves. Thus, I believe that hydrogen will necessarily be required as the method to reduce the infrastructure costs to transport and store the electricity.
And I seriously doubt that electric cars will doom the oil and gas industry. At best it will slow down the growth of oil and gas usage as developing countries realize the benefits that energy consumption brings to the well-being of their populations.
The problem that I have with this paper is the hypocrisy: the same people that demonize coal now want to spend hundreds of millions for the exact same use.
There are also many ways to produce hydrogen that would make more sense, such as methane reforming. Producing hydrogen using wind and solar power would also seem to make more sense than trying to force-feed the electric grids with unreliable green-power.

Retired Kit P
Reply to  dh-mtl
April 13, 2018 12:02 pm

Would you stop supporting electric cars if this old engineer explained why your 3 reasons are bogus?
‘Less polluting’ is only good if you have pollution problems. Those problems have been solved in the modern world.
Electric cars are not more efficient. Never will be if you follow the laws of thermodynamics rather than the laws of cherry picking data.
Finally, why do we need a more diverse supply of transportation fuel? If it is not broke, don’t fix it.
The first step in problem solving is checking to see if there is a problem.

Reply to  dh-mtl
April 13, 2018 3:22 pm

Until EVs can be proven economical and practical with a supporting infrastructure on a scale equivalent to current ICE transportation they will remain a niche. You can legislate their use but you can’t legislate using new technology that has yet to be implemented or created. That won’t stop the green weenies from trying though. Pity those that are forced into it without proper preparation.

Warren Blair
Reply to  dh-mtl
April 13, 2018 4:24 pm

I noticed you didn’t discuss batteries.
Interesting devices when you know what goes into making them; their limited life and what happens to them thereafter.

Reply to  dh-mtl
April 14, 2018 1:15 am

The major impediment to the broad use of electric cars (and trucks) is the cost of infrastructure. The cost of charging stations and power systems will be higher than the cost of the cars themselves.

Sorry, but I think you have this backwards. The only reason gas powered cars need such a large infrastructure (with gas stations, tanker trucks to haul the gasoline, etc) is because gasoline only has the one real use in our modern civilization. But Electricity is already everywhere, being used for everything. Almost every home in the US or any other 1st world nation has an Electric service. And so does every Commercial or Industrial site. Frankly, if gasoline was as easily accessible as Electricity there wouldn’t BE any gas stations. Why go to a independent dealer, with the necessary mark up in price, when you could just top up at home.
The real problem is that current EV’s just can’t HOLD that much energy. A battery that could hold as much energy as a standard 10 gallon gas tank would weight as much as a normal gas powered CAR. So EV’s instead run around with batteries that hold the equivalent of a gallon or 2, necessitating a ‘refueling’ after nearly every trip, or even during for a lengthy one. And the reality of current battery and charging tech is that it will take 10’s of minutes to several HOURS to do so.
Frankly, once the battery problem is solved I expect EV’s to completely change not just the auto industry but how we commute itself. But until then they are mostly a joke that needs to be constantly propped up with incentives like tax credits and ‘supercharger’ stations just to pretend they can compete.

Gary Pearse
April 13, 2018 10:12 am

This is purely a political card trick to segue back into coal. Hydrogen is a terrible fuel in comparative volumetric quantities vs all other fuels. Compressed H2 is ~1/20th the energy density of gasoline and diesel. Cooled H2 is about 1/4 but you better have a fail safe way to keep it cold.
A litre of gasoline itself holds 64% more hydrogen than a litre of liquid hydrogen! Metal hydrides hold more hydrogen in a unit volume but the metal weight itself is a confounding consideration for mobile use and overall the cost is an issue. Indeed, gasoline is the best hydride of them all.
In a process patented invention of mine (much perfected by others in feasibility research and construction of a demonstration plant) using membrane electrolysis to produce lithium hydroxide monohydrate (preferred Li-ion battery chemical) from a lithium solution extracted from hard rock Li sources, we initially entertained the idea of using the H2 from the cathode for heat in the process but rejected it after considering capital and operating costs of equipment to collect and utilize it – we mix it with air and vent it.
We do make lithium carbonate (the other battery chemical) by bubbling atmospheric CO2 through some of the hydroxide and through its high-soda impurity containing LiOH crystallizer purge solution – another patented process of mine. It won environmental awards and a fat grant for my client (fancy uber sceptical me generating environmental prizes). The world’s largest LiOH.H2O plant and 40million tonne lithium ore mine are now under construction.
Anyone interested in the hydrogen as a simple off-take on site might get a supply.

April 13, 2018 10:19 am

This all seams like a 0 sum game. And as we know, with every reaction there is loss, so actually a negative sum game. But oddly, it seems the greens are loving it. Anything that has a green label and waists taxpayer’s money is declared good.

April 13, 2018 10:22 am

Let’s see the track record and audits of the other large-scale demonstration projects in Australia like solar concentrators.

April 13, 2018 11:24 am

It’s always good to go all in on an unproven technology. I suspect the Japanese government is subsidising this on the other end. Expect a total failure.

April 13, 2018 2:14 pm

The best way to sequester Carbon is to not burn it in the first place. The chemical processes that create carbonate rock and plant life are the best ways of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere. One of the most compact and safe ways of transporting Hydrogen is to oxidize it into H2O first. Japan has plenty of H2O off their cost. They do not need to transport it from Australia. In Japan, they can use electricity generated by nuclear plants to extract Hydrogen directly from sea water without producing any CO2.
The reality is that the climate change we have been experiencing is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has no control. Despite the hype, there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and plenty of scientific rational to support the idea that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is really zero.
It would be far safer for them to transport the brown coal fuel to Japan and use it in Japan to generate Hydrogen.

April 13, 2018 2:25 pm

What is left of that lump of brown coal once the (good) hydrogen is captured and that (bad, nasty) CO2 is sequestered? Does that lump simply disappear? Is there nothing left? Where will that waste be used or buried?

Mike Higton
April 13, 2018 2:27 pm

An earlier post explained how South Africa is running this sort of process to produce jet fuel and many other compounds.
A while back I read that China has over a dozen coal-to-gas and coal-to-liquids projects under way. In the right circumstances this process works – but it is very CO2-intensive.

April 13, 2018 2:47 pm

“There are still some kinks to be worked out” = Government Subsidies! But hey, GO FOR IT!
Liberal Heads exploding like Popcorn in a microwave.
Ha ha

April 13, 2018 4:33 pm

Hydogen is carbon’s closest partner in Earth-Crime!
Hydro … carbons … duh!
Tunbull just wants to keep releasing the evil and make the ocean even more acid than it already is. Maybe the acid will eat all the plastic bags that getting sucked into dolphin blowholes? Plastic bags are also made of hydrocarbon you know. Dolphins think they’re just jellyfish so they suck them into their blowhole … as you do. Probably not the best habit, but that’s the natural world for you.
We should just go back to brown pqper bags, like on the Mary Tyler Moore show. Those things were awesome.

Warren Blair
April 13, 2018 4:57 pm

Yes yes all that:
Our moronic politicians keep throwing good money after bad.
Brown coal combustion had given Victoria some of the cheapest electricity in the World.
Victorians now pay the second-highest electricity prices (ex tax) in the World!
This is nothing short of criminal and all our main political parties are to blame.
Tony Abbott (not my favourite politician for several reasons) was the only poly with the correct energy policy. The green cartel made certain he was deposed when they couldn’t control him (like they do Malcolm & co).
If brown coal to hydrogen is so viable, why do they need 100-million of our money?
Taxpayers ripped again for a pathetic political donation.

April 13, 2018 6:20 pm

“Joining hands with and celebrating with our new green friends” is always a mistake as anything that pleases this bunch of Green mental defectives will lead to cost, misery and disaster.

David Lallatin
April 14, 2018 11:26 am

The lunacy of OZGreens no longer boggles my mind. OZ should be using and marketing what they have, and can without subsidizing it. They should export what won’t be paid for with culture-enrichers they will pay with what needful citizens find out of reach. And few places on Earth have more need for what an increase of atmospheric CO2 produces through forage and forest growth.

Hocus Locus
April 15, 2018 4:55 am

That is the female end of the extension cord, that lump of coal is consuming electricity.

April 15, 2018 7:53 am

Any process that proposed CO2 capture is genocidal in nature. Such perpetrators should be charged with crimes against humanity.
As a test case, apply the theorem of limits to the idea, take it to the limits, and see how many people die from famine as all CO2 is eliminated from the atmosphere. Their defense is that CO2 causes catastrophic global warming (or whatever the current name for the meme), which is a bold face, nefarious LIE!
The CO2 capture component is only included in this project to get funding for an otherwise obvious boondoggle!

April 15, 2018 8:30 pm

Reblogged this on The GOLDEN RULE and commented:
Would be interesting to see the detailed financials. Reading the already many comments, many important factors need to be assessed.
Regarding the costs, Japan receives the energy output but at what costs and benefits to whom?
CO2 generation, apparently the only ‘by-product’, is of course some sort of dilemma, but only if you believe the pseudo science of the alarmists. It might even be welcome if, as some believe, we are entering a little ice age period. and then, only if atmospheric CO2 actually does make a difference!
Hopefully, this energy production will have less of the subsidization required for solar and wind energies.

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