CSIRO research will fill a gap in the global energy technology chain to supply fuel cell vehicles with low-emissions hydrogen sourced from Australia.
The two-year project will build on CSIRO’s expertise in separating pure hydrogen from mixed gas streams, in this case converting ammonia to high-purity hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles (FCVs).
CSIRO’s membrane reactor technology will bring together hydrogen production, distribution and delivery in the form of a modular unit that can be used at, or near, a refuelling station.
The project recently received $1.7 million from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF), which will be matched by CSIRO.
Currently, the transportation and storage of hydrogen is complex and relatively expensive, making export commercially challenging.
The membrane will allow hydrogen to be transported in the form of ammonia (which is already being traded globally), and then reconverted back to hydrogen at the point of use. The thin metal membrane allows hydrogen to pass, while blocking all other gases.
Chair of Renewable Hydrogen, Brett Cooper believes CSIRO’s membrane technology can enable a new, and potentially carbon-free, export industry for Australia that could match the scale of the current LNG industry.
“With this technology, we can now deliver our renewable energy to Japan, Korea and across the Asia-Pacific region in liquid form, as renewable ammonia, and efficiently convert it back to pure hydrogen for cars, buses, power generation and industrial processes,” Mr Cooper said.
“This market didn’t exist 10 years ago – now Australia is positioned to be the number one renewable fuel provider in the world’s fastest growing region.”
In the final stages of development, the device is being further refined, ready for commercial deployment.
“This is a watershed moment for energy, and we look forward to applying CSIRO innovation to enable this exciting renewably-sourced fuel and energy storage medium a smoother path to market,” said CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall.