Creating hydrogen from the sun and water

Hydrogen is anticipated to be a major carrier of clean energy into the future, as it is able to be produced from renewable energy sources and doesn’t emit carbon dioxide when burned.

QUT is leading a $7.5 million research project to establish a pilot plant producing hydrogen from renewable solar energy. The pilot plant will be installed at the Redlands Research Facility south of Brisbane and will use locally produced solar energy to extract hydrogen from treated non-drinking water, such as seawater.

Energy will be drawn from a Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) array at the Redlands facility which QUT has been testing in an existing joint project with Japanese energy giant Sumitomo Electric Industries who is also one of the pilot plant partners. Commercially available battery packs will supplement the solar energy to extract hydrogen from treated water, which will then be fed into a fuel cell and back into the grid to re-supply power to the local system.

Researchers will test a variety of combinations of technologies at the plant to establish the best possible models of renewable hydrogen production for Australian conditions.

This project aims to:

  • determine the viability of establishing hybrid renewable energy plants to generate hydrogen for export and local use
  • open the door for the commercial development of hydrogen generating plants throughout regional Australia
  • develop next generation technologies in electrolysis, energy storage and chemical sensing to benchmark against existing commercial standards
  • evaluate the conversion of hydrogen to a liquid to enable it to be transported to other destinations.

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