Ammonia has always been an unsung hero of household cleaning but now a team of Scientists in Queensland are hoping it’ll play a major role in how we get around. Last week two hydrogen powered cars were tested in Brisbane using a breakthrough technology. In a world first, the cars (a Toyota and Hyundai) were powered using carbon-free hydrogen fuel, derived from ammonia.

For two decades, a CSIRO team have been working on a special ultra-high purity hydrogen using a unique membrane technology. Hydrogen has long been considered a top contender for mainstream fuel replacement but it’s a volatile and therefore dangerous substance to transport. This new technology changes everything and allows it to be transported safely in the form of ammonia.

Dr David Harris from the CSIRO stated, “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 WA — and we can ship that form of ammonia anywhere in the world,”

Demand for hydrogen fuel is growing in South Korea and Hyundai is leading the way. Hyundai has contracts to deliver government buses, in addition to 16,000 cars of the next 5 years. The automaker also expects demand to grow internationally which could lead to unprecedented growth for Australian produced hydrogen.

If you’re in Queensland, keep an eye out for the ‘HYDRGN’ number plate.