IChemE joins bid to create Australian hydrogen research centre

Article by Adam Duckett

ICHEME is joining a proposed Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) in Australia that would work to expand the production of green hydrogen and help decarbonise industrial processes and energy systems.

Australia’s CRC programme was established in 1990 by the federal government and has created dozens of centres that facilitate industry-led collaborations with researchers. The Scaling up Green Hydrogen CRC aims to develop multiple solutions for storage, transport and distribution of hydrogen, tailored to fit the different needs of the CRC’s stakeholders. It plans to adapt electrolyser technologies to Australian conditions, while collaborating across electricity, water, chemicals, transport, infrastructure, and manufacturing sectors. In doing so, the CRC aims to help its stakeholders grow Australia’s green hydrogen industry with local workforce, supply chains, standards and best-practice safety.

IChemE has joined the CRC bid as a knowledge partner. The institution’s involvement will centre on thought leadership by sharing expertise and knowledge in both directions. IChemE said it plans to connect the CRC with relevant members, Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Communities of Practice (CoPs) for their input and expertise, and provide opportunities to share knowledge generated by the CRC out to members, again largely through SIGs and CoPs. Knowledge gained through working with the CRC will also inform IChemE’s policy contributions on hydrogen. 

Alexandra Meldrum, vice president of IChemE’s Learned Society, said: “This project is an exciting opportunity for IChemE to work with likeminded partners at the cutting edge of innovation, technology and scale up. It aligns with our ambitions to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for clean energy and climate action.”

The Australian government will announce in December which CRC bids have been successful. Those that are selected will start operating in the middle of next year.

Australia has plans to become a global force in the hydrogen economy. Last year, it announced funding to develop eight hydrogen hubs across the country. Discussing the scale of the challenge faced, the CRC notes on its webpage that the largest operating electrolyser in Australia is just 1.25 MW. However, scaling to as much as 1 TW is not just about adding more and bigger electrolysers. It says the feedstocks – electricity and water sectors – will also have to be massively scaled and coupled, noting that systems approaches will have to be developed.

Other partners in the centre include BP, Petronas, Monash University, Arup, and the University of Queensland.

A report evaluating the benefits of CRCs published in 2021 found that the programmes help industries become more competitive, sustainable, and productive; improves commercialisation; and enhances the capability of the research workforce. The analysis found that the government had invested close to A$5bn since the CRC programme was formed 30 years ago with private partners adding close to A$15bn.

Article by Adam Duckett

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