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Melbourne, UNSW lead hydrogen research project

Australian researchers have been given a grant to see if renewable hydrogen could be a fuel of the future for heavy duty engines


Two of Australia’s leading universities will lead an $8.6 million research project looking into running heavy duty engines on renewable hydrogen.

To be partly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the three-and-a-half year project between the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales will involve close collaboration with leading industry partners Energy Power Systems Australia, Meridian Energy Australia, Continental and MAN.

Nikola set an unveiling date for a hydrogen-electric truck last month. Read more here.

Researchers from the universities will investigate the performance and value of reciprocating engines running on renewable hydrogen – focusing on their potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Director of the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne Michael Brear says researchers will use existing studies of hydrogen injection and combustion to develop advanced tools for the design of hydrogen fuelled engines.

Researchers will use these tools to develop two generations of spark and compression ignition engines which the teams will then further study – to see what role they might play in developing a clean and investible energy system.

“Hydrogen can be made, transported and used in many different ways,” Brear says.

“This new funding will allow help us to demonstrate how hydrogen can be used cost-effectively, reliably and cleanly. That is the guiding aim of our work.”

UNSW researchers will also receive more than $2.3 million for two projects that concentrate on solar energy as a means to create better ways to produce renewable hydrogen.

Scientia Professor Rose Amal has been awarded $1.3 million for research into “highly efficient and low cost photovoltaic-electrolysis (PVE) system to generate hydrogen by harvesting the full spectrum of sunlight”.

Her project aims to develop a low-cost, highly efficient integrated PVE system that can use sunlight as the sole source of electricity, heat and light to produce hydrogen from water.

Associate Professor Jason Scott will receive $1 million to investigate a system that can convert organic waste into renewable hydrogen using solar energy – being able to extract hydrogen from a waste stream with no carbon-dioxide by-product.

Meridian Energy Australia chief executive Ed McManus says his team is excited to be able to contribute to this important project.

“The ability to create and store renewable energy in the form of hydrogen, and then recreate electricity at times of peak demand, has the potential to play an important role in the electricity system of the future,” McManus said.

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