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First International Shipment of Liquid Hydrogen Arrives in Japan

first shipment of liquid hydrogen arrives in Japan
Suiso Frontier completed her nine-week round trip arriving with the first shipment of liquid hydrogen in Kobe, Japan (HySTRA)

Published Feb 25, 2022 8:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

The first international shipment of a large quantity of liquified hydrogen arrived in Japan today, February 25, marking a milestone in the efforts to develop hydrogen as a future alternative carbon-free fuel source. The vessel Suiso Frontier especially built for the purpose completed a voyage lasting approximately three-and-a-half weeks as the next stage in the demonstration project.

The Suiso Frontier, a 380-foot-long vessel, was built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan as part of the project which seeks to transport liquefied hydrogen at 1/800 of its original gas-state volume. The vessel was launched in 2019 and underwent extensive testing before departing Japan in December 2021 and arriving in Australia in mid-January. The round trip was completed in less than nine weeks, but was delayed by weather conditions which slowed the voyage from Japan to Australia.

The vessel is operating as part of the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain pilot project (HESC). Project partners include Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Electric Power Development Co., Iwatani Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, AGL Energy, and Sumitomo Corporation. Shell, ENEOS Corporation, and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. (K-Line) are also involved in the Japanese portion of the project.

While in Australia, the vessel was loaded with liquid hydrogen produced from Australian brown coal (also known as lignite) and a biomass process. While the hydrogen used in the pilot project was produced through the use of fossil fuels, HESC, says that carbon offsets were purchased to mitigate emissions and when they reach the commercial stage the CO2 would be captured, stored, or recycled. The hydrogen was cooled to -253 degrees Celsius at the Hastings hydrogen liquefaction plant and transferred to the purpose-built tank aboard the vessel. 

The Suiso Frontier docked in Kobe at a specially designed terminal with a storage tank similar to that aboard the vessel. Kawasaki working with the CO?-free Hydrogen Energy Supply-chain Technology Research Association (HySTRA) will continue to carry out cargo handling tests, including loading and unloading, as well as verification of acquired data during this phase of the project. Achieving the shipment and successful delivery from Australia to Japan the partners said is a key step in the vision of building a global hydrogen supply chain.