CANBERRA, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Australia's peak scientific body has made a major breakthrough that will allow hydrogen to be transported for use as an energy source.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) announced on Wednesday that researchers were able to turn hydrogen into ammonia and back again using unique membrane technology, meaning it could be shipped worldwide for use in hydrogen-powered vehicles.
"The key here is we can transport the hydrogen from the place where it is produced from renewable energy. Let's say maybe that is in outback Western Australia and we can ship that form of ammonia anywhere in the world," project leader David Harris told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday.
Up until now, transporting hydrogen was implausible because of its low density and high flammability.
"We are certainly the first to demonstrate the production of very clean hydrogen from ammonia," CSIRO principal research scientist Michael Dolan said.
"Today is the very first time in the world that hydrogen cars have been fuelled with a fuel derived from ammonia, carbon-free fuel."
There are only five cars known to run off hydrogen in Australia but thousands in Asia where Toyota and Hyundai have invested millions of dollars in the technology.
Dolan said there was expected to be a million of the vehicles on roads around the world by 2025 as production costs fall,
The CSIRO has received expressions of interest in importing the ammonia from Japan, South Korea and Europe.
Matthew Macleod, a spokesperson of Toyota, described the breakthrough as a "game changer".
"Ammonia already has established routes for transportation and to transport at relatively normal temperatures," he told the ABC.
"When it gets to where it is going they can actually pull the hydrogen out using the CSIRO technology, which opens up fuel cell technology to markets that previously did not have the technology."