Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Hydrogen fuel breakthrough in Queensland Can Influence Exports

Hydrogen fuel breakthrough in Queensland Can Influence Exports

BOC Sales and Marketing director Bruce Currie congratulated CSIRO on the successful refuelling of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, which proves the effectiveness of CSIRO's membrane technology from generation, right through to point of use.

Expectations are high for the technology and its future industries after the CSIRO demonstrated the operation of a Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo after they were successfully refuelled with ultra-high purity hydrogen.

The membrane separates ultra-high purity hydrogen from ammonia, while blocking all other gases.

"From an energy perspective, the ability to move solar energy and wind energy from one place to another using ammonia opens up doors that previously would have been closed because of the difficulties of transporting hydrogen", he said.

"Hydrogen powered vehicles, including buses, trucks, trains, forklifts as well as passenger cars are being manufactured by leading automotive companies and deployed worldwide as part of their efforts to decarbonise the transport sector", she said.

Liquid hydrogen must be contained at incredibly high pressure or maintained at very low temperatures by complex cryogenic systems. Then hydrogen gas will finally be pumped into powered cars.

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Once it reaches its destination the special CSIRO membrane converts it back into hydrogen cheaply and easily.

For example, while hydrogen costs more than petrol at this stage, hydrogen-run vehicles have twice the efficiency of those run on traditional fuels. Dolan said fuel for these hydrogen-powered cars would cost about $15/kg, with a tank holding about 5 kg of hydrogen. The principal researcher Michael Dolan explained the process to Renew Economy as follows: "We are effectively undoing the Haber-Bosch process [which has traditionally been used to transform hydrogen into ammonia], starting with hydrogen from a source, where you take nitrogen out of the air and make ammonia, which we think helps transport hydrogen over long distances and long time scales". By using stored hydrogen to drive a generator, networks could cheaply meet peak demand for power.

Hyundai spokesman Scott Nargar told the ABC this trial was a massive step for Australia's hydrogen-powered vehicle market. This gives Australia a major advantage over other countries without abundant renewable energy.

Vehicle makers say Federal Government support will be vital if zero-emission hydrogen-fuelled cars are ever to become a common sight on Australian roads.

JUST WHEN ELECTROMOBILTY was stealing all the passenger auto, bus and general public transport limelight, hydrogen could be pinching a lot of it back in the clean-fuel game given the CSIRO's - Australia's national science agency - successful refuelling of two fuel cell vehicles, with massive potential for a new hydrogen production and export industry.

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