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Western Australian Water Minister, Dave Kelly, and Regional Development Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, have announced an Australian-first project to produce renewable hydrogen and graphite from sewage at a wastewater treatment plant.

Water Corporation and Western Australian-based technology company, Hazer Group, have partnered to develop the technology for commercial use, enabling Hazer Group to use waste gas (biogas) for its world-leading hydrogen and graphite production process.

The three-year operation at Woodman Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Munster will produce around 100 tonnes of fuel-grade hydrogen and 380 tonnes of graphite each year, with the potential for expansion.

The technology capitalises 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.

While most of this renewable fuel is currently used to produce electricity for the treatment plant, the excess is usually burned off – now it will be converted into valuable materials using an iron ore catalyst.

The technology was developed at the University of Western Australia before being acquired by Hazer Group.

“Excess gas produced during the wastewater treatment process is currently burned off but this innovative technology will instead use it to create low-emission hydrogen and graphite,” Mr Kelly said.

“This will help decarbonise the Water Corporation’s operations to further support its sustainability objectives, while generating additional revenue and staff training opportunities.

“I commend the Water Corporation for partnering with Hazer Group to facilitate this renewable waste-to-energy scheme.”

The project is expected to create up to 20 new jobs and help sustain more than 100 others in the contractor and supply chain.

“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,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“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. 

“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.

“In partnership with the City of Mandurah, Hazer Group is also exploring plans to establish WA’s first refuelling infrastructure hub with a grant from the WA Renewable Hydrogen Fund.”

Hydrogen has a wide range of industrial and commercial uses, including vehicle fuel and chemical feedstock.

 Graphite has potential for a number of industrial applications, such as the production of lithium-ion batteries, water purification and advanced materials.

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