The West Australian government is backing an Australian first project to produce renewable hydrogen and graphite from wastewater, with the signing of a supply deal between the state-owned Water Corporation and the Perth-based Hazer Group that is developing the technology.
Hazer Group will use biogas from the sewage at the Woodman Point wastewater treatment plant in Munster to produce “low emissions” hydrogen and graphite, with a target production rate of 100-tonnes a year of fuel-grade hydrogen and 380 tonnes of graphite a year under the three year contract.
The technology focuses on the waste product of biogas – primarily composed of methane and carbon dioxide – which is released during the wastewater treatment process as solid matter (biosolids) breaks down.
Most of this “renewable” fuel – as the government press release describes it – is currently used to produce electricity for the treatment plant, and the excess is usually burned off. Now it will be converted into valuable materials using an iron ore catalyst using technology developed at the University of Western Australia before being acquired by Hazer Group.
“This will help decarbonise the Water Corporation’s operations to further support its sustainability objectives, while generating additional revenue and staff training opportunities,” water minister Dave Kelly said in a statement.
The hydrogen can be used in a wide range of industrial and commercial uses, including vehicle fuel and chemical feedstock. The graphite can be used in the production of lithium-ion batteries, water purification and advanced materials.
“Hydrogen is an increasingly important renewable fuel source, and this world-leading project will showcase our State’s capability in the hydrogen industry through the commercialisation of a technology developed right here in WA,” regional development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said.
“This initiative represents an important first step towards kick-starting renewable hydrogen production capacity and driving the use of zero-emissions transport fuel for buses, heavy trucking, waste collection, and light vehicle fleets.”
“This initiative represents an important first step towards kick-starting renewable hydrogen production capacity and driving the use of zero-emissions transport fuel for buses, heavy trucking, waste collection, and light vehicle fleets.
Hazer says its process (see diagram above from a recent presentation), delivers significant emissions savings over even renewable hydrogen delivered through electrolysis.
The technology is also being supported by a grant from the WA renewable Hydrogen Fund (for a separate project), and this is one of a number of small and large scale renewable hydrogen projects earmarked for the state. At least three giga-watt scale projects using wind and solar as the primary fuel source are proposed for the state’s mid-west region and the Pilbara.
“The Hazer Group’s project aligns perfectly with the McGowan Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Strategy, set up to position WA as a major producer, user and exporter of renewable hydrogen,” MacTiernan said.
Hazer said the supply agreement is schedule to begin in 2021 and the contract will last for three years. It has budgeted $16.5 million for the capex construction of the facility, which also has funding of up to $9.4 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency for capex ($7.9 million) and for the operating budget. A final investment decision is expected in the middle of the year.
RenewEconomy and its sister sites One Step Off The Grid and The Driven will continue to publish throughout the Covid-19 crisis, posting good news about technology and project development, and holding government, regulators and business to account. But as the conference market evaporates, and some advertisers pull in their budgets, readers can help by making a voluntary donation here to help ensure we can continue to offer the service free of charge and to as wide an audience as possible. Thank you for your support.