A Newcastle-based company has developed a new technology that has the potential to replace coal-fired power and change the world.
The technology - which is named HERO [Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser] - produces no pollution.
Star Scientific chairman Andrew Horvath said the technology could "definitely replace baseload coal power".
"This is the revolution we've been waiting for. It'll dramatically change the Australian and world economy," Mr Horvath said.
He said the technology could make a massive contribution towards tackling climate change.
The company intends to sell energy globally.
"We want to manufacture the units here in Newcastle. We genuinely see this as a big opportunity for Newcastle. We'll also develop a very large science park in Newcastle because there are 10 or so other things we can do with HERO that we won't talk about yet," he said.
University of Newcastle Chemistry Professor Scott Donne has independently verified the technology.
"I think it's a very big deal actually," Professor Donne said.
"I think it's a very effective way of making steam on a large scale and in a very quick way."
Professor Donne said it was "a very versatile technology that can be used for many different things, like energy and heat generation".
"It's clean as well. One of the main challenges will be to find a source of hydrogen."
He said the university was collaborating with Star Scientific on "development in this area".
Energy analyst Tim Buckley said hydrogen was "an emerging technology that will probably take a decade or two to come to fruition, if it takes off".
"It's far enough advanced that it's not totally hypothetical," said Mr Buckley, of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
"What is hypothetical is whether it can be deployed commercially at scale. That's the five-, 10-, 15-year journey that hydrogen has to go through and that will require significant investment."
Mr Buckley said many organisations around the world were investing in this area because "it is so potentially valuable for the world".
"Whether or not this [HERO] is the breakthrough technology, it will all contribute to the race. The more people in this race, the better. The more investment in this race, the better.
"We need technology breakthroughs like this. It's a critical necessity in terms of the world's commitment to deliver on the Paris climate agreement. We're behind schedule on that.
"Any one of 50 technologies might win the race. Or it might be a whole lot of them."
Australia's chief chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel said last year that "hydrogen's time has come".
"It's simply never been commercially viable. Now the economics are changing," he said.
The HERO technology is expected to be commercialised by 2021.
Shortland MP Pat Conroy said the technology was "a great example of the potential of the hydrogen industry".
"If it can be commercialised, it's a tremendous opportunity for our region," Mr Conroy said.
He said the company was offering "24-7 dispatchable power, produced from hydrogen".
"That is exciting," he said.
"If we can produce that hydrogen from renewable energy, it'll be a huge step forward in replacing our old ageing power stations and creating new industry and jobs."
Mr Horvath said Newcastle had a "solid engineering base and really good engineers".
A decline in some industries in Newcastle had "freed up a lot of quality people", some of which Star Scientific had hired.
Mr Conroy is Labor's Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy.
He recently spoke about his party's $1.1 billion hydrogen plan, which includes a vision of Australia becoming "the land of cheap and endless energy".
He has met officials from companies producing hydrogen from renewable energy.
"They're very bullish about getting the price to a level where it makes commercial sense," he said.
Mr Horvath said Australia was well placed to make hydrogen from solar and wind power.
He said the HERO technology would be "the market activator to kick off the hydrogen economy".
The technology was created after the surprise discovery of a special material.
"We were working on a number of background inventions while looking at nuclear fusion," Mr Horvath said.
"We were making different materials to work with this. One of the materials exhibited a really odd process when we put hydrogen to it.
"It heated up very quickly to around 800 to 900 degrees."
They kept testing it.
"We repeated it dozens of times and perfected it over the last two years," he said.
When the material is coated on a range of metals and mixed with hydrogen and oxygen, it gets "incredibly hot over a number of minutes".
He said the company had discovered "a true catalyst".
"The energy created stays within the base material. That allows us to then transmit that energy to anything we want."
For example, the heat produced can be transmitted to water and converted into steam to drive power-station turbines.
"Wherever you currently use heat, you can use this. The big upside is, it produces water and nothing else. It is zero emissions," he said.
The water produced can then be converted back into hydrogen and oxygen.
He said the material was created with a mixture of elements. The precise recipe is confidential and patented.
Existing infrastructure at power stations could be used to create energy with HERO instead of coal.
"You could take the coal boilers out and replace them with HERO units," he said.
He said HERO units could also be installed suburb-by-suburb.
"You could put a 100-megawatt plant in the middle of Newcastle and no one would know it was there," he said.
"You're not emitting any carbon dioxide or other pollution, so you could drop these anywhere.
"That's the beauty of HERO. It allows for the decentralisation of power, which is the smart way to do power."
This matched the concept of the so-called "smart grid", which is being planned in many cities globally.
Star Scientific said it had attracted $85 million in investment.
"We have a unique shareholder base. There are no corporations whatsoever. We have wealthy philanthropic green investors," he said.
"There are a lot of wealthy people and families who have made fortunes in oil and gas. That's the typical shareholder we have.
"A lot of these are people had oil and gas assets handed down to them in the estate of the family. They feel guilty about it and want to do something green."