PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Construction work has started on Australia’s first hydrogen fuel cell research and development facility at Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus, in Victoria.
Construction of the Hycel Technology Hub is slated for completion in late 2023. The hub forms a cornerstone facility within Deakin’s A$23-million hydrogen research and innovation programme.
The Hycel Technology Hub will see the development, assembly, testing and demonstration of hydrogen fuel cells, with a focus on developing fuel cells for heavy vehicles, starting with heavy haulage trucks, and potentially progressing to other larger-scale uses including trains or boats.
Hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen into electricity that can then be used to power vehicles and similarly in stationary applications to power or heat homes, businesses and industry.
The project includes the construction of a new 2 200 m2 facility at the Warrnambool campus with specialised fuel cell assembly and testing equipment and a heavy vehicle integration bay, along with training facilities and a multi-functional space for education and demonstration activities.
The Victorian government’s A$9-million contribution supports construction and development of hydrogen and future energy education programmes. With the funding, Deakin is creating new hydrogen curriculum for primary and high schools, hydrogen short courses for professional engineers and is also seeking to develop a hydrogen bus training package in collaboration with vocational and industry partners.
“The Hycel Technology Hub is an important driver in the research and application of hydrogen as a fuel source and we expect the benefits of this research to be far-reaching both in Australia and internationally,” Victoria Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney said.
“Deakin’s focus on hydrogen fuel applications will also have a direct benefit to the people of Warrnambool as Deakin aims to transition its Warrnambool campus from gas to hydrogen and support conversion of the Warrnambool Bus Lines fleet to clean energy.”
The facility will form part of a broader hydrogen precinct on the campus which currently includes the existing hydrogen test beds, where researchers from Deakin’s Institute of Frontier Materials are testing the efficacy of plastic piping to understand if Australia’s gas network can safely transport 100% hydrogen in the future.
Other proposed hydrogen projects within the precinct include a hydrogen boiler demonstration using 100% hydrogen fuel for domestic hot water and hydronic heating, as well as potentially supporting Warrnambool Bus Line’s new hydrogen bus refuelling station and depot as they convert their fleet from diesel to hydrogen fuel cell buses, making it the first public bus deployment of its kind in Australia.
Deakin University vice-chancellor Professor Iain Martin said that the university is combining its expertise in science, technology and education to meet the needs of Australia’s emerging hydrogen industry.
“Our Warrnambool Campus will be a hydrogen precinct of research, innovation and training. We are thrilled to collaborate with local and national industry partners to focus on advancing hydrogen as a fuel in transport and pipelines.”