Hydrogen


Written by Tamsin Collins 

Published October 2021

 

Did you know that in the 1850’s Aluminum was considered to be more precious than gold? That it captured Napoleon’s interest due to its potential military uses e.g., light weight helmets, armor and other equipment for the French Army. He was even reputed to have held a banquet where only the most honored guests were given aluminum utensils while others made do with gold…..

The enthusiasm was not universal and in spite of its desirable mechanical properties and resistance to corrosion, many manufacturers did not wish to divert resources from producing other well-known metals, such as iron and bronze to experiment with aluminum.

Today aluminum produced using the Byer and Hall-Heroult process is everywhere; so ubiquitous it is even used as packaging for our everyday soft drinks.

Could hydrogen be the same? Could it help us break our reliance on fossil fuels and provide us with a sustainable future? Dr. Alan Finkle thinks so….

Dr. Alan Finkle AO, Australia’s Chief Scientist 2016-2020 and currently the special adviser to the Australian Government on Low Emissions Technology, was not always so convinced but is now a strong proponent for this idea having delivered Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy. His presentation on the National Hydrogen Strategy which was followed by a Q&A session for CEDA (Committee of Economic Development in Australia) in August 2019 is a must see, answering questions many of you may have on this topic.

The National Hydrogen Strategy involves all of the states and WA is playing its part.

By 2022 the WA Renewable Hydrogen Strategy aims to:

  • have a project approved to export renewable hydrogen from WA
  • have renewable hydrogen being used in one remote location in WA
  • have hydrogen being distributed in a WA gas Network
  • have a refueling facility for hydrogen vehicles available in WA.

How do you think we are placed to achieve these goals?

  • Exporting renewable hydrogen from WA:

    The National hydrogen plan talks of seven hydrogen hubs, one of which would be based in the Pilbara. The Asian Renewable Energy Hub is based in the Pilbara and aims to produce renewable at oil and gas scale, generating 26000MW. 3000MW of the generation capacity will be dedicated to large energy users in the Pilbara region with the rest to be exported as green ammonia. This project seems to be largely on target but with one little wrinkly from the Federal Government. Watch this space.

  • Renewable hydrogen being used in one remote location in WA:

    Reviewing the CSIROs HyResource Project list there are at least two remote residential areas embracing renewable hydrogen - Denham and Murchison.

Hydrogen distributed a gas Network & refuelling for vehicles in WA:

ATCO is working on both of these and we look forward to hearing from them on this in our October Chemaraderie.

Perhaps it is not so far fetched to think that in just over 8 short years

  • WA’s market share in global hydrogen exports could be similar to its share in LNG today.
  • WA’s gas pipelines and networks might contain up to 10% renewable hydrogen blend.
  • Renewable hydrogen could be widely used in mining haulage vehicles.
  • Renewable hydrogen could be a significant fuel source for transportation in regional Western Australia.

Makes me think, what sort of car will my 9 year old learn to drive when he is old enough?

Don’t forget World Hydrogen Day – 8th October.

Tamsin Collins

RACI WA President

 

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