With an eye on HK and mainland markets, Cheung Kong will transport its staff using the clean fuel in a $15m one-year trial A hydrogen-powered bus is to be tested in Hong Kong in a $15 million project to find cleaner fuels and to improve air quality. The one-year trial is a joint venture between Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI) and a Canadian-based company, Stuart Energy. If it proves successful, the company will explore the possibility of applying the technology to buses in Hong Kong and on the mainland. A coach running on hydrogen will carry staff of the Green Island Cement plant - a CKI subsidiary - from Tap Shek Kok in Tuen Mun to Mei Foo, a distance of 70km. The cost effectiveness of the vehicle and the technical feasibility of using hydrogen will be assessed over the course of the year. The hydrogen will be generated at the cement plant by a facility using an electrolysis method to draw hydrogen from water. The company is still seeking transport and fire services department approval for the road test. Speaking at a conference called 'Towards a Hydrogen Economy', CKI executive director Barrie Cook yesterday said hydrogen could become a major source of fuel for transportation in future. He said hydrogen was as safe as other fuels in terms of storage and use. Emissions from hydrogen-powered vehicles were even lower than that from the Euro III diesel engine, which adopts the most stringent emissions standards in the world. Hydrogen is still much more expensive than diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), but Mr Cook hopes the costs will be lowered when the technology matures. A spokesman for the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau said the agency was aware of CKI's plans. 'Hydrogen is a potential clean vehicle fuel. We are thus supportive of this initiative and are awaiting details of their plan.' He said that any hydrogen-fuelled vehicle running in Hong Kong had to meet road safety and emission requirements. Dennis Leung Yiu-cheong, of the department of mechanical engineering at the University of Hong Kong, was also in favour of the trial. But he doubted whether the technology could be widely applied before issues on safety and cost could be resolved. 'This is by no means an easy task. Hydrogen is inherently more dangerous than LPG.' He said many researchers were focusing on fuel cells that combine oxygen and hydrogen into electric power that can be stored. 'Fuel cells will be the real power of the future. It is not just clean, it also does not require a combustion engine,' he said. The university will start studying fuel cells later this year, he said.