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Biomass Technology

Australia backs tech that converts biogas into hydrogen and graphite.

“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.”

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced that it has approved up to AUD$9.41 million in funding to help Hazer Group, an Australian renewable energy company, develop its technology which will convert biogas from sewage treatment into hydrogen and graphite.

Hazer is currently seeking to build a $15.8 million (US$10.72 million) 100-tonne-per-annum facility in Munster, Western Australia, to demonstrate their proprietary hydrogen production technology.

According to the company, its innovative technology converts biomethane 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 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.

The company aims to complete construction of its hydrogen production facility by December 2020 and begin operations in January 2021.

In a statement, ARENA said it was giving the funding to Hazer on behalf of the Australian government.

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 focussed on accelerating hydrogen.

Miller said: “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.”

“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 added: “We are delighted to have progressed through ARENA’s process and been selected for funding. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Australian Government through the important phase of commercial development for this novel Australian technology.

“There is very 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.”

ARENA has thrown its weight behind Australia’s increasing focus on hydrogen as an alternative fuel source. ARENA recently announced $950,000 in funding for gas company BOC for a renewable hydrogen production and refuelling project in Queensland. ARENA has also supported Toyota’s hydrogen centre at their former car manufacturing plant in Altona, ATCO’s hydrogen microgrid in WA and Jemena’s power-to-grid gas demonstration in western Sydney. Last year, ARENA awarded $22.1 million to 16 hydrogen research projects.

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