An Australian developed hydrogen ‘catalyst’ could be the key to shifting the global energy system to hydrogen, with its Australian inventors signing a landmark deal to advise the Philippine government on a potential transition to a green hydrogen economy.
Star Scientific has developed an innovative new catalyst material, dubbed the Hydrogen Energy Release Optimizer or HERO, which it says has the ability to convert hydrogen into heat without combustion, and at a very high thermal efficiency.
Star Scientific says the catalyst coating has the potential for use in the production of high temperature steam, allowing existing thermal power stations to be retrofitted to run on hydrogen, as well as allowing industrial operations to use hydrogen as an effective source of heat.
The company said the discovery of the ‘HERO’ catalyst was a fortuitous result of the company’s research into fusion energy technologies, with the catalyst being completely reusable and that the only by-product from the hydrogen conversion process was water.
The company said that it had produced a working demonstration of the catalyst at its research facilities in Berkley Vale on the New South Wales central coast. The technology has subsequently been patented, and Star Scientific has shifted its focus on its ongoing development.
As part of its work to deploy its hydrogen innovation, Star Scientific has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Energy of the Republic of the Philippines, to undertake a study into how the Philippines can be transitioned to one utilising hydrogen and transitioning away from fossil fuels.
Under the MoU, Star Scientific will advise the Philippine government on how funds and investment can be sourced to support the creation of a hydrogen economy, and how the country can become self-sufficient for its energy.
“I have often said that there could be a lot of potential for hydrogen for the local industry given that it is seen as the fuel of the future,” Philippine energy secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
“We are hoping to be able to utilize hydrogen as fuel for electric vehicles and as part of the country’s future energy mix.”
Global group chairman for Star Scientific, Andrew Horvath, told RenewEconomy that the Philippines government had been motivated to enter into the MoU as it saw the need to develop industries that met new ethical criteria, including zero emissions and recyclable products.
“This agreement with the Department of Energy of the Republic of the Philippines represents a significant milestone in the development of the global hydrogen economy,” Horvath said.
“Thanks to this bold and visionary step by the Philippines, we can begin to see the reality of whole economies turning over to hydrogen and a rapid acceleration to sustainable energy on a global scale. This is just the start.”
“This will represent the largest single boost to Australia’s role in developing the global hydrogen economy, heralding a new era of research, development and deployment in the manufacture and installation of all parts of the hydrogen supply chain. We are particularly grateful and excited to be part of the next phase of the Philippines’ economic growth.”
Horvath told RenewEconomy that one of the key challenges for a green hydrogen industry is developing the ability for it to be used within the global economy. There has been a recent surge in investment in projects that would produce green hydrogen, including substantial proposals within Australia, but further work was needed to ensure hydrogen can be used for industrial and power generation, Horvath said.
Horvath added that the Philippines was a high potential country for hydrogen use, with the country currently highly reliant on imported fossil fuels, but had access to substantial resources of off-shore wind energy, and a plan for attracting external investment could be key to unlocking it.
Through the MoU, Star Scientific will advise the Philippines government on the potential use of the ‘HERO’ technology to deliver heat and electricity for all of the country’s inhabited islands, as well as serving as a supplier of desalinated water.