CANBERRA, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Australian scientific agency will explore the development of hydrogen fuel membrane technology to fill a gap between hydrogen production, distribution and delivery, making fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) more viable.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said the two-year project would build on CSIRO's expertise in separating pure hydrogen from mixed gas streams,in this case converting ammonia to high-purity hydrogen for use in FCVs.
The CSIRO's "membrane reactor technology" will be delivered in the form of a modular unit that can be used at, or near, a hydrogen fuel refueling station.
According to the CSIRO, transporting and storing pure hydrogen fuel is expensive and relatively complex but the membrane will allow hydrogen to be transported in the form of ammonia (which is already being traded globally), and then reconverted back to hydrogen at the point of use.
The thin metal membrane allows hydrogen to pass, while blocking all other gases.
The research has been welcomed by businesses in the FCV industry while the CSIRO's CEO Dr Larry Marshall said the agency is excited by the prospect of a growing global market for clean hydrogen, and for the potential benefits it may bring.
"This is a watershed moment for energy, and we look forward to applying CSIRO innovation to enable this exciting renewably-sourced fuel and energy storage medium a smoother path to market," Marshall said in a statement on Wednesday.
Director at RenewableHydrogen Pty Ltd Brett Cooper said the CSIRO's membrane technology would one day enable a new and potentially carbon-free export industry for Australia that could "match" the scale of the current liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.
"With this technology, we can now deliver our renewable energy to Japan, (South) Korea and across the Asia-Pacific region in liquid form, as renewable ammonia, and efficiently convert it back to pure hydrogen for cars, buses, power generation and industrial processes," Cooper said.