The technology is said to address some of the key challenges that limit availability of hydrogen fuel


Professor Behdad Moghtaderi and Dr Andrew Maddocks with canisters of green hydrogen, PV array and their Hydro Harvester innovation. (Credit: University of Newcastle)

Researchers from the University of Newcastle in Australia have developed a new system, which combines solar energy with water harvested from the air, to produce green hydrogen, a zero-emissions fuel.

University of Newcastle professor Behdad Moghtaderi said that the system addresses some of the key challenges that limit domestic production and availability of hydrogen fuel.

The technology features Moghtaderi’s Hydro Harvester, which is designed to harvest pure water from the air and then uses solar-powered electrolysis to split the pure water into hydrogen and oxygen, prior to storing the hydrogen as a gas.

Pilot plant demonstrator located at the University’s NIER precinct

Located at the University’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) precinct, the pilot plant demonstrator offered key advantages that could boost the production of domestic hydrogen, Moghtaderi said.

He added: “Importantly, the water we produce via our Hydro Harvester technology is so pure it can be directly fed into the electrolyser, which is a huge advantage over other sources of water.

“Sea water, wastewater or even tap water require multiple treatment steps to reach the level of purity required in electrolysis. By removing the need for treatment, we can dramatically reduce hydrogen production cost.

“We’ve developed a scalable system. Our pilot plant demonstrator produces one kilo of hydrogen a day, however a commercial scale system could produce thousands of kilos per day.”

Currently, the research team is in talks with an undisclosed car manufacturer to demonstrate the first-of-its-kind green hydrogen fuel in hydrogen cars at their locations in Sydney.

Testing is planned to commence by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Moghtaderi’s team and Southern Green Gas are working jointly to develop ways to combine their green hydrogen with carbon dioxide, for transport of hydrogen.

Moghtaderi added: “As part of an ARENA funded project, we’re combining carbon dioxide (CO2) with our green hydrogen to make renewable methane. This allows us to easily transport hydrogen over large distances using the existing natural gas pipelines.

“At the point of use green methane can be converted back to hydrogen or used as-is in households as a renewable form of natural gas.”