The Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund has announced it is making a multi-million dollar contribution to Queensland hydrogen energy storage company Hydrexia.
The 13-year venture capital fund – a key component of the federal government’s $100 million Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund Program – is putting $4.5 million towards a $9.25 million investment in hydrogen storage technology that will enable a new renewable energy storage solution.
The fund’s investments in leading Australian renewable energy companies are matched dollar for dollar by Softbank China Venture Capital (SBCVC), a leading venture capital firm in Asia, creating a $200 million fund dedicated to commercialising new clean technology.
Founded in 2006 and based in Brisbane, Hydrexia is a spin-off of the University of Queensland that has focused on developing effective and reliable hydrogen storage technology using a new magnesium alloy in a solid form called “hydride”.
Hydrexia’s technology can store more hydrogen in less space than traditional storage technology and at low pressure which reduces cost; making it desirable for use in existing hydrogen markets and renewable energy generation.
Federal energy minister Gary Gray welcomed the investment, and said Hydrexia would use it to commercialise its hydrogen storage technology in existing industrial gas markets, which will provide a commercialisation pathway for emerging applications such as hydrogen refuelling and renewable energy storage.
French company Air Liquide, a world leader in gases for industry, health and the environment, has also made an equity investment in Hydrexia, giving the Brisbane company a leg-up into the existing industrial market, and the possibility of gaining a competitive advantage on the emerging renewable energy storage markets.
“Storage in the form of magnesium hydride should allow us to offer our industrial customers a particularly innovative solution,” said François Darchis, senior vice-president at Air Liquide. “Air Liquide has chosen to invest not only in the development of its own technologies but also, notably through ALIAD, in young innovative companies working in closely related fields. Innovation is at the heart of our strategy and allows Air Liquide to strengthen its competitiveness and open new markets.”
Hydrogen storage in the form of magnesium hydrides is an established technology, whose commercialisation has been hampered due to high production cost. The new alloy being used by Hydrexia should make production possible at a competitive price, and increase storage density.
The technology will be used for industrial hydrogen markets such as glass, steel and chemicals. In concrete terms, Air Liquide could deliver hydrogen stored in the form of hydride to its customers rather than in cylinder or bulk.