CSIRO’s new $10m initiative to manufacture Australia’s first movable hydrogen generator

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Catalytic Static Mixer (CSM). Image credit: CSIRO

CSIRO is leading an Australian-first project to develop an easily deployable device to produce hydrogen directly at the point of consumption in a push to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

In a news release, the agency revealed it will construct a demonstration unit based on patented technology to efficiently create hydrogen from liquid carriers, with a $10 million investment from research and innovation provider Advanced Carbon Engineering, over a six-year period.

CSIRO also stated that the use of a liquid carrier allows hydrogen to be securely and efficiently stored and transported in tanks from the point of production – such as a remote solar or wind farm – to the point of usage.

Dr Vicky Au, Deputy Hydrogen Industry Mission Lead at CSIRO, stated that the project will be the first to use Australian technology to manufacture hydrogen from a liquid carrier and will address some of the key hurdles to the hydrogen sector’s growth.

“Australia has the potential to become an energy superpower through hydrogen, but we need to find better methods of safely transporting and storing it at scale,” Dr Au said.

She added, “To get the hydrogen industry moving, we need to be able to get hydrogen where it will be used by the consumer.”

She said that the generator unit will accomplish that and is portable enough to be placed anywhere it is required, be it on a farm, at a festival, in an office building, or at a mine site.

Meanwhile, according to researcher Dr John Chiefari, the new hydrogen generator would be developed using CSIRO’s unique catalytic static mixers. 

Dr Chiefari explained, “Catalytic static mixers are special tools that mix fluids to speed up and better control chemical reactions without any moving parts.”

She said, “This level of control allows the process to be highly scalable without the technical challenges that this usually entails. This gives us a key advantage over the current packed bed reactor technology.”

Dr Chiefari described the initiative as “a big step forward” with a goal to be able to store the fuel in standard tanks and manage it using existing diesel or petrol infrastructure.

The project is being carried out under the auspices of CSIRO’s Hydrogen Industry Mission, which aims to promote global decarbonisation by fostering the growth of a commercially viable Australian hydrogen industry.