CSIRO takes the wheel on cars powered by Aussie-made hydrogen

CSIRO scientists have taken the wheel of the first vehicle to be powered by Australian-made ultra-high purity hydrogen created through the organisation’s membrane technology and now plan to increase production.

CSIRO scientists take a hydrogen-powered car for a test drive.

CSIRO scientists take a hydrogen-powered car for a test drive.

The CSIRO first launched its hydrogen fuel program late last year to support the development of the technology as a new energy export for Australia.

It invested around $7 million in creating a hydrogen-focused Future Sciences Platform.

This was soon followed by the launch of a $496 million project, backed by state and federal governments and a Japanese consortium, to convert Victoria’s brown coal into liquid hydrogen for export to Japan.

The latest development is a membrane technology that separates ultra-high purity hydrogen from ammonia, while blocking other gases, allowing it to be used a clean fuel source for vehicles.

“This links hydrogen production, distribution and delivery in the form of a modular unit that can be used at, or near, a refuelling station,” the CSIRO said.

“The newly developed technology has the potential to fill a gap in the supply chain. [This] provides an opportunity to decarbonise both the energy and transport sectors while creating new export opportunities.”

The fuel generated from this process was used to power a Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo.

After the successful demonstration this week, the CSIRO will now look to increase the scale of hydrogen production.

“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,” Dr Marshall said.

Meanwhile, Energy company Origin unveiled an Australian first energy development, a large-scale battery storage unit twinned with a gas turbine.

The two work together to provide power during peak demand periods, with the battery pushing power into the system to balance the grid as the gas turbine starts up, after which the gas turbine then charges the battery. It also provides power to start up the gas turbine if a blackout occurs.

Origin's Mt Stuart Gas plant, where it is building the Australian first dual battery and gas installation.

Origin’s Mt Stuart Gas plant, where it is building the Australian first dual battery and gas installation.

It will install the 4-megawatt, grid-scale battery at its Mt Stuart, 414-megawatt gas-fired power station in Townsville, in partnership with a Korean consortium led by Bosungpowertec.

“This will be the first time in Australia that a grid-scale battery has been connected to an open cycle gas turbine system and will not only create efficiencies but enable a reliable start-up in the event of a large scale power outage,” Origin executive general manager of energy supply, Greg Jarvis, said.

“Having a battery of this size means we’re able to store the energy needed to start the power station without the aid of the electricity from the transmission network should a loss of power occur due to an event like a cyclone.”

Installation and commissioning of the battery will be completed by May 2019.

There is currently only one other combined gas and battery unit in the world, located in California in the US.

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