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Hydrogen fuel breakthrough in Queensland could fire up massive new export market

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posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 04:46 PM

CSIRO principal research scientist Michael Dolan said it was a very exciting day for a project that has been a decade in the making.

"We started out with what we thought was a good idea, it is exciting to see it on the cusp of commercial deployment," he said.

What's the fuss about? The membrane breakthrough will allow hydrogen to be safely transported and used as a mass production energy source.

"We are certainly the first to demonstrate the production of very clean hydrogen from ammonia," Dr Dolan said.

"Today is the very first time in the world that hydrogen cars have been fuelled with a fuel derived from ammonia — carbon-free fuel."


CSIRO researchers found a way to turn Australian-made hydrogen into ammonia, meaning it could be shipped safely to the mass market of Asia., Hydrogen fuel breakthrough in Queensland could fire up massive new export market.

CSIRO is Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (US sp!) based out of Canberra, Australia.

There are several things going on with this announcement. One, using solar or wind, either can be used for electrolysis of water and split it off into oxygen and hydrogen. The problem had been the transportation of hydrogen because it is so volatile it just tends to explode. The CSIRO researchers had an idea of turning it into ammonia, NH3, which is an easy enough process. What this announcement is really saying is: Breakthrough in Membrane Technology.

The proprietary membrane converts ammonia back to hydrogen. In essence, they are taking solar and wind energy, using it to create hydrogen, which is converted into ammonia, transported anywhere, then the membrane converts it back to hydrogen at a filling station. The hydrogen gets pumped into the vehicle and fuels the vehicle. No petroleum is combusted. No carbon emissions.

The idea is so good that South Korea developed a 5 year plan to put 16,000 hydrogen cars on the road with 300 fill up stations (same source). Toyota and Hyundai have been developing hydrogen-fueled cars for a while. This breakthrough will allow that investment to happen.

The end of oil and gas? Personally, I don't care! The end of wasteful carbon emissions adding to our problems as a planet is a much better idea. If the Aussies get rich doing, all the better!

This could be the start of the so-called "Hydrogen Economy"!

So ATS, thoughts? What/who other car makers are shaking in their tennis shoes? Yay the future!, or, I will wait and see??

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 04:56 PM
PS - They are up and running a test in western Brisbane which sounds like both filling stations and hydrogen cars.

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall was one of the first to ride in the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo vehicles powered by ultra-high purity hydrogen, produced in Queensland using CSIRO’s membrane technology.

This technology will pave the way for bulk hydrogen to be transported in the form of ammonia, using existing infrastructure, and then reconverted back to hydrogen at the point of use.

It has the potential to fill the gap in the technology chain to supply fuel cell vehicles around the world with low-emissions hydrogen sourced from Australia.

The membrane separates ultra-high purity hydrogen from ammonia, while blocking all other gases.

It links hydrogen production, distribution and delivery in the form of a modular unit that can be used at, or near, a refuelling station., Aug. 8, 2018 - Hydrogen on the horizon.

Another source if MSM is not your thing.

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 05:00 PM

You're not saying.. Are You?? That they can just take amonia that was made from the hydrogen.. And squeeze it through something that makes it hydrogen again are you??

Otherwise it's another chemical reaction needing to take place, and more energy wasted.

If it is more energy put in again.. It seems obvious to me the more sunlight we collect the better for all of these other emerging technologies.. once you collect enough sun and wind and it's maintaining at that point it's almost free energy in other forms.. don't kill me on semantics..

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 05:11 PM
a reply to: Reverbs

That is how I read it. Ammonia (probably a specific version and highly pure), pushed through a membrane, out come hydrogen. I did not see specifics on how much, if any, more energy is needed to convert back.

Even if you lose some on the re-conversion the energy capacity of hydrogen is such that it is, in the end, way better than hydrocarbons. And I am sure you could put another solar panel up at the refueling station if needs be.

Just think man, it is a car! That runs on water!!!

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 05:21 PM

I mean that's what I was gathering.

I guess the specifics are secret to a degree for now.

Dude, where's my hydrogen car?!

And can they make a moving 2600 pound chemical hydrogen tank that has less ability to blow up than say a car loaded with lithium ion batteries?
edit on 8-8-2018 by Reverbs because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 05:25 PM
Aussies throw out lots of smoke and mirrors. I worked for an Australian company for nearly 10 years got out and sold my stock just in time. Went from $20 US a share to $.50 in a few months and then it was gone.

Looking for investors and i bet the CEO or President has a lot of family in the upper offices. $$$$$$$$$$$$$ Take the money and run...

edit on 8-8-2018 by mikell because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 05:30 PM
a reply to: Reverbs

Which is why gave the story my own title! It is a "membrane tech" breakthrough not a "hydrogen fuel" one. Hydrogen as fuel has been around but it has been chained to the spot of production because it tends to explode. Now, using tech we already in shipping solvents around (yeah, that is not always a great statement because we have all seen the accidents that can happen), we can ship a form of energy that has been promised for years.

I am OK at leaving Step 2 at "then magic happens" for the moment!

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 05:34 PM

originally posted by: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
a reply to: Reverbs

That is how I read it. Ammonia (probably a specific version and highly pure), pushed through a membrane, out come hydrogen. I did not see specifics on how much, if any, more energy is needed to convert back.

Even if you lose some on the re-conversion the energy capacity of hydrogen is such that it is, in the end, way better than hydrocarbons. And I am sure you could put another solar panel up at the refueling station if needs be.

Just think man, it is a car! That runs on water!!!

The ammonia is decomposed on the membrane and the membrane transports hydrogen through the membrane as a proton-electron pair where it combines with another proton electron pair to form molecular hydrogen.
Don't get overly excited over this. Remember that basing an economy on a derived product is invalid. SO much for the term "Hydrogen Economy."
How is ammonia made? By reaction of atmospheric nitrogen with hydrogen [See Haber or Haber-Bosch process]. How is hydrogen made? There are many ways to produce hydrogen but the least expensive is through reforming methane to hydrogen and producing....get ready....CO2. If you wanted to, all you'd have to do would be to reform methane at a fueling station and avoid the energy and financial penalties of making ammonia and then unmaking ammonia to get H2 and N2.
If you were to use solar power to produce hydrogen, you would lose 30% of your solar energy so a better bet would be to just use the electricity and forget about the hydrogen.
This great idea will fade quickly.

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 05:39 PM
a reply to: mikell

Following this successful demonstration, the technology will be increased in scale and deployed in several larger-scale demonstrations, in Australia and abroad.

The project received $1.7 million from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF), which was matched by CSIRO.

In addition to its membrane technology, CSIRO is applying its expertise to all stages of the hydrogen technology chain (including solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, grid management, water electrolysis, ammonia synthesis, direct ammonia utilisation via combustion and/or fuel cells, as well as hydrogen production).

(Source: Hydrogen on the horizon article)

Looks like the Matildas are trying to make "fetch" happen!

I don't like clinging onto a job just to have a job either. Sounds like you made the right choice! As far as this goes (it is a MSM article and I have not found a more science-y source yet), I hope it does scale up. It is interesting that they use the terms "all stages of the hydrogen technology chain" because that is a vertical view. Which means they are trying to be players. Which really is fetch!

Now if only the Other Hydrogen Economy (fusion) can take off!!

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 06:11 PM
a reply to: Reverbs

Project leader Dr Michael Dolan told IFLScience that ammonia is stored as a liquid, a portion of which is allowed to vaporize to ammonia gas. This is drawn off and passed through their patented membrane, producing hydrogen and nitrogen. The hydrogen is pressurized and used to fill the cars. Reduced pressure in the ammonia storage container allows more liquid to vaporize until the entire supply is used. - Membrane Technology Could Make Hydrogen-Powered Cars Competitive.

There is a bit more on what they are doing but what the membrane is made of, still don't know. Still looking for a good source.

@pteridine, thanks for the response! I was wondering about industrial scale ammonia production. Also seeing how efficient electrolysis has gotten lately. Using natural gas is rather costly as is the generation of CO2 which is usually vented as a waste product. I think that the solar/wind idea sounds good and that creating ammonia as a storage medium is right on the line of cost vs rewards. This may not be a worldwide method but hey, I like starts! Like I said, I hope that it scales.

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 06:23 PM

I am hopeful , but we have been hearing how close we are on hydrogen for decades

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 06:40 PM

Amorphous metallic membranes display promising properties for hydrogen purification up to an ultrapure grade (purity > 99.999%). The hydrogen permeability through amorphous membranes has been widely studied in the literature. In this work we focus on two additional properties, which should be considered before possible application of such materials: the propensity to crystallize at high temperatures should be avoided, as the crystallized membranes can become brittle; the hydrogen solubility should be high, as solubility and permeability are proportional. We investigate the crystallization process and the hydrogen solubility of some membranes based on Ni, Nb, and Zr metals, as a function of Zr content, and with the addition of Ta or B. The boron doping does not significantly affect the crystallization temperature and the thermal stability of the membrane. However, the hydrogen solubility for p ~7 bar is as high as H/M ~0.31 at T = 440 °C and H/M ~0.27 at T = 485 °C. Moreover, the membrane does not pulverize even after repeated thermal cycles and hydrogenation processes up to 485 °C and 7 bar, and it retains its initial shape. - New Studies of the Physical Properties of Metallic Amorphous Membranes for Hydrogen Purification.

This is an abstract to one of the studies they (members of CSIRO) were working on.

The membrane is metallic. See if I can remember them... nickel, niobium, zirconium, tantalum, and boron. The use of other elements, specifically palladium (expensive), and alternate membrane technologies (does not say it but Nafian is a likely candidate) expand and deform or cannot be used above certain temps. The rest is comparison of various combinations of crystalline structures using the listed elements across different temperature and pressure gradients.

There you go! The answer was "thin metallic membrane" (that is patented) is being used to reverse ammonia to pure hydrogen.

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 06:41 PM
I heard the release of higher technologies is part of the new energy grid that we have been entering

could be crazy, could be right who knows

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 06:43 PM
Why not fit the car with a membrane and fill the vehicle with ammonia? Seems safer to me...

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 06:53 PM
a reply to: toysforadults

I have another thread up over here were it looked like there was going to be a battle over grid-level energy storage. Due to crappy US laws energy storage at the grid level that did not happen last year as I predicted. The laws have been redrawn so energy companies know what the can do, what they can charge, and how quickly they need to adopt storage as part of any future plans.

Australia was leading the way there too as a company made a flow battery for home use. They haven't gotten anywhere so have shifted focus from home use to industrial. But looking at the statement it does say, "grid management" in it.

It could be, one day you wake up, and there is a different way of energy distribution, storage, and usage! Everybody will wonder when this all took place! Except us CT nuts following fake news here on ATS!

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 06:59 PM
a reply to: NightFlight

I thought that too!

My best guess is the economics of creating specific metallic crystalline structures for the sheer numbers of cars out there prevents that from happening (see the S. Korea plan for 16,000 hydrogen vehicles and 300 filling stations).

They also said electric cars would be safer too! At least when the gas burns off a car it does not re-ignite like li-ion car does! I wonder what would happen if a hydrogen car crashes?

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 07:44 PM
The Japanese were working on something similar involving the oxides of Ruthenium and Aluminum

A recent article in Science Advances describes the new method. A pre-treated RuO2/γ-Al2O3 catalyst was exposed to ammonia. The ammonia then adsorbed to the catalyst surface, an exothermic process leading to the production of heat.

As a result, the temperature of the catalytic bed increased and eventually exceeded the autoignition temperature of ammonia, resulting in oxidative decomposition of ammonia and the production of hydrogen

However, depending on the amount of Ruthenium needed, I'm not sure how economically feasible this would compare to the Australian method considering at the end of trading today Ruthenium was selling at $250 USD/troy ounce. Still a fascinating paper.

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 10:13 PM
a reply to: Reverbs

Solar is not by itself useful for long distance travel, without having a hybrid/gas engine. Hydrogen can be made by electrolysis using solar power, but hydrogen in a gaseous state cannot be compressed enough to get high volume required. This procedure gets hydrogen in a liquid / membrane form that hydrogen can be absorbed in large quantities and then slowly released as needed. Bob Lazar, of UFO fame, had a hydrogen car and this theory can be viewed at

posted on Aug, 8 2018 @ 10:19 PM
The creation of NH3 is fairly energy intensive, even if using "free" energy it still takes more energy to make than is retrieved.
And I surprised you have fallen for the age old mis info on hydrogen's volitility.
H2 is no more volatile or dangerous than a myriad of other energetic materials that are utilized in modern society.
It would be so much easier to store the H2 in a metal hydride, or as I have seen recently in graphene matrix to be released with the application of appropriate current.
I have also recently read some work involving the nitrogen combustion cycle, just burn the ammonia instead.

posted on Aug, 9 2018 @ 10:14 AM
a reply to: punkinworks10

I think "old" oil would like to keep there infrastructure and cash flow of the old gas stations.

This fits there system perfectly.

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