Clean Energy Solutions: AquaHydrex

Challenge

 

Clean energy derived from hydrogen has long promised a revolution in transport fuels, industrial energy storage applications and the way we generate and store energy at a household level. In fact, hydrogen is already fuelling electric cars and industry uses hydrogen technologies to store energy – however as a general rule it is cost prohibitive. Existing methods of producing hydrogen – which involve splitting hydrogen from oxygen by passing an electrical current through water – rely on expensive materials like platinum and other rare earth elements, and use energy derived from fossil fuel to ‘split the water’. Put simply, it is more expensive to produce than conventional energy and this has prevented its widespread adoption. ACES researchers are working with technology company Aquahydrex to commercialise an innovative, cheaper way of producing hydrogen.

Solution

The team has developed an innovative new process for creating hydrogen, which results in a cost-competitive, cleaner fuel source or energy storage device for many applications.

The features of the new process include:

  • The hydrogen is created using light from the sun, rather than conventional sources;
  • It relies on a cheap abundant material to split the water; and
  • It uses seawater as the base material, saving fresh water for other purposes, with no harmful by-products created as a result.

The team has already proven the science behind the new process, and efforts to scale-up and prototype devices for use across a range of applications are in progress.

Our engagement

Developing the new process began within the University of Wollongong (UOW) and Monash University nodes of ACES as well other Australian Research Council (ARC) supported projects at Monash University. The results of the research were so promising that spin-off company Aquahydrex Pty Ltd was formed, and investment secured from True North Venture Capital. ACES continues to lead Aquahydrex’s fundamental research program that will ensure the venture remains at the forefront of hydrogen technology development, and is commercially successful in the long-term.

The potential impact

The new process could be used across a range of applications, from fuelling electric cars and powering homes, to helping industry and power plants store energy for future use.

“ACES has and continues to be an outstanding partner for AquaHydrex. They are well positioned to be a world-class commercial research partner. The quality of their facilities and equipment, coupled with the ability of their people to adopt new commercial methodologies has helped to accelerate our progress.”

AquaHydrex Pty Ltd General Manager Paul Barrett.

 
 
 

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