Charles Darwin University will install hydrogen system to collaborate with industry

Article by Adam Duckett

CHARLES Darwin University is purchasing a hydrogen energy storage system to help Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) develop greener industries.

Hybrid Systems Australia will supply an electrolyser, hydrogen storage, and fuel-cell system that will be installed at the university’s Renewable Energy Grid Testing Facility in Darwin. The university’s Energy and Resources Institute will operate the pilot system in a bid to bring together industry partners with researchers and students to develop and commercialise hydrogen as an energy source. The system, which will involve electrolysing fresh water to produce hydrogen for storage, will be used to test the capability of integrating electrolysers and fuel cells into the grid.

Hydrogen has significant promise as a sustainable fuel and manufacturing feedstock but the vast majority is currently produced by reforming natural gas. In order to achieve climate targets, many countries are pushing to develop a hydrogen economy but this will require greener production methods including splitting water with the use of renewable energy. Australia, with its large open spaces and sunny climate has set out a national strategy to build a domestic hydrogen sector and then a world leader in hydrogen production and exports. To help deliver on this ambition, Australia’s state and territories are developing their own strategies. In its own plans, the National Territory said it is ideally placed to become a centre for hydrogen development and production thanks to its close proximity to key importers including Japan and China, and its existing heavy industry and energy infrastructure including the Darwin LNG Plant and Ichthys Onshore LNG Processing Facility.

ERI Director Professor Suresh Thennadil said a green hydrogen future for the Northern Territory would need comprehensive research and evaluation and the ability to train a workforce with the appropriate skills required to sustain a hydrogen industry.

“There is still a lot of work to do for the NT to become a hydrogen producer for a global energy market that is investing heavily in alternative fuels,” Thennadil said.

Earlier this year, the Federal Government announced funding to support the rollout of eight hydrogen hubs across the country as part of an ambition to position the nation as a major global player in the industry by 2030. Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has developed an interactive map detailing close to 100 hydrogen projects in development across the country.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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