The push to scale up Australia’s hydrogen industry has stepped up a gear — and at least one ASX player is hoping it will be the ASX’s next big thing.
The CSIRO recently demonstrated it could refuel two fuel cell vehicles and has also released what is essentially a “blueprint” for the development of the hydrogen industry.
Earlier in August, CSIRO chief Larry Marshall was one of the first to ride in the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo vehicles powered by ultra-high purity hydrogen, produced in Queensland using the national science agency’s membrane technology.
The membrane separates ultra-high purity hydrogen from ammonia, while blocking all other gases.
The technology will pave the way for bulk hydrogen to be transported in the form of ammonia, using existing infrastructure, and then reconverted back to hydrogen at the point of use.
The market potential for hydrogen is huge.
The global market is worth $US130 billion ($177.6 billion) and the industry is forecast to grow to $US2.5 trillion by 2050, according to a recent Morgan Stanley report.
Dr Patrick Hartley, director of CSIRO’s Hydrogen Future Science Platform, says hydrogen has very diverse applications across the energy and industry sectors.
“Essentially it can be used to decarbonise a whole range of different parts of the energy system and industry sectors,” he told Stockhead.
“One of the key opportunities for Australia actually is exporting hydrogen.”
Several countries – the main ones being Japan and South Korea – are investigating how they can decarbonise their energy imports.
“They are big importers, they really rely on imported fossil fuels to power their economy,” Dr Hartley said.
“So they’re looking at how they can de-carbonise their import industry and that provides opportunities for Australia, with both renewable and fossil resources to produce hydrogen and then export it.”
Hazer Group (ASX:HZR) is one of the few ASX-listed players dabbling in hydrogen.
The company has a developed a technology for producing hydrogen and graphite from natural gas and iron ore.
One of Hazer’s goals is to be the first to supply hydrogen to the Australian market using its own technology.
“Generally, hydrogen in Australia is produced by industries for use within their own processes (captive hydrogen), such as the production of ammonia and petrochemical refining,” Dr Andrew Cornejo, co-founder, inventor and chief technical officer, told Stockhead.
“There is a small ‘merchant’ market in Perth which is currently imported from Melbourne.
“Ideally Hazer would like to service this market with hydrogen produced from its future demonstration plant, and would also like to use surplus hydrogen to pioneer hydrogen uses in the energy sector, such as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and natural gas decarbonising ventures.”
Hazer aims to have a demonstration plant producing hydrogen in 2020.