Western Australia will soon be home to a cutting-edge hydrogen production facility, after the Australian Government approved $9.41 million in funding for Hazer Group Limited (Hazer) to construct and operate the new facility.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced the funding approval on behalf of the Australian Government, with the new facility set to be located in Munster.

Hazer are seeking to build a $15.8 million 100 tonne per annum facility to demonstrate its proprietary hydrogen production technology which converts biogas from sewage treatment into hydrogen and graphite.

The Hazer Process production technology converts bio-methane to renewable hydrogen and graphite using an iron ore catalyst, creating an alternate hydrogen pathway to the traditional approaches of steam methane reforming and electrolysis.

Hazer will sell the renewable hydrogen for industrial applications and is exploring markets for graphite including carbon black, activated carbon and battery anode applications.

Hazer said it aims to take advantage of waste or low-value biogas streams such as from wastewater treatment plants, landfill sites and other industrial locations to produce higher value hydrogen and graphite.

Hazer has identified the proposed location for the project at the Woodman Point Wastewater Treatment Plant, owned by the Western Australian Water Corporation (Water Corporation).

Hazer has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Water Corporation for the supply of biogas and to provide the project site for construction.

The construction of the facility is scheduled to be completed by December 2020 and begin operations in January 2021.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said Hazer’s project represents a new and innovative way to produce renewable hydrogen, which aligns with ARENA’s new investment priority focused on accelerating hydrogen.

“Renewable hydrogen is typically produced by splitting water molecules using renewable electricity. However, Hazer’s process represents an alternative way to produce hydrogen using biogas sourced from wastewater treatment plants. If successful, this project will offer opportunities to replicate the technology across other treatment plants and landfill sites across Australia,” Mr Miller said.

“This technology could help set up Australia as an exporter of hydrogen, and open up new market opportunities from the graphite that is produced as a by-product of the hydrogen production process.”

Hazer Managing Director, Geoff Ward, said there is significant interest in the potential for hydrogen to play an important role in the Australian economy through providing energy storage, services in grid support and resilience, in direct use as a transport fuel, and as a source of low-emission heat and power.

“The completion of the Hazer Commercial Demonstration Plant is a key step to demonstrate the robustness and value of our technology and position Hazer to capture opportunities in this important growth market,” Mr Ward said.

In 2019, ARENA commissioned a report by ACIL Allen Consulting to look into the opportunities for Australia from hydrogen exports. The report found that Australia is in a strong position to become a leading exporter of hydrogen, as global demand increases over the next decade, predicting Australia’s hydrogen export industry could be worth $1.7 billion annually to the economy and create 2,800 jobs by 2030.

Before joining the Utility team, Eliza worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years. Eliza has the rare talent of being able to find the nuggets of gold in otherwise average source material, and like any self-respecting member of gen-Y is a whiz when it comes to social media marketing and management.

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