Star Scientific’s Chairman, Andrew Horvath, said the company is “deeply appreciative” of having won the “prestigious award.” The New South Wales-based company took out the top spot for the inaugural global award’s Industrial Application category, chosen by the Sustainable Energy Council.
The company’s Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser (HERO) technology garnered interest from governments worldwide last year, with the company signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Philippines’ Department of Energy and plunging into discussions with leaders across Northern Europe.
“All round the world we are seeing governments starting to grapple with the hard question of how to adapt fossil-fuel driven industries to sustainable energy; specifically, how to help industry generate industrial quantities of heat without combustion,” Horvath said.
“Heat is the key input into most human endeavours. HERO® is the missing link in the hydrogen supply chain, turning green hydrogen into continuous industrial heat without combustion. It can be used from the heaviest of industry such as coal-fired power stations, through to scaled down local assets for specific locations such as district heating and desalination.”
What is Star Scientific’s HERO technology
Discovered accidentally, the technology was actually born out of an aberration observed during the company’s hydrogen research a few years ago. “We kept seeing this weird artefact,” Horvath told pv magazine Australia in an interview last December. Intrigued, the company put “every instrument we had on it” to observe and isolate the occurrence.
Curiosity paid off – ultimately leading the company to HERO, a coating substance which can be applied to ceramics or certain metals and which, upon contact with hydrogen and oxygen, goes from zero to over 700 degrees Celsius in three minutes.
“Because it’s not burning, it’s a reaction, all that energy is excitement energy and it goes straight through the substrate. So our energy transfer is above 90% into whatever you’re transferring it to, whether it’s water, CO2, whatever medium,” Horvath said.
“HERO allows us to make saturated steam for energy production, or in fact any sort of heat-driven energy production – be it in industry, be it in food or be it in mass energy production.”
From central coast to centre stage
The potential applications of the technology has seen Star Scientific, which has a 8,500 square metre research and development facility in Berkeley Vale on the New South Wales Central Coast, inundated with calls from global energy ministers.
With its MoU, the Philippines’ government wants Star Scientific to retro-fit existing coal-fired power stations with HERO systems powered by green hydrogen. The agreement will also see both parties explore whether the Philippines’ large resources of offshore wind could be utilised toward this green hydrogen end as well as looking into how the technology might provide clean, quick, desalinated water.
Hydrogen’s future in focus
As reporter Natalie Filatoff noted, the true power of HERO technology is as a demand activator. HERO gives us a frame to consider how hydrogen can be used, in turn stimulating demand for production as applications come into sharper focus.
In his award acceptance video posted on Tuesday, Chairman Horvath says the research facility is in the “final phases of pre-production,” and pv magazine Australia reported in December the company is seeking a nearby site to house its first manufacturing plant.
“This is an exciting time to be pioneering hydrogen technology. We are seeing a shift toward hydrogen as the energy choice of the future and we are very excited by the opportunities that HERO® will bring,” Horvath said.
Chris Hugall, Managing Director of the Sustainable Energy Council which selected Star Scientific for its World Hydrogen Award, said the Council was delighted with the outstanding projects nominated. “The World Hydrogen Awards are the only truly global awards to recognise excellence within the Hydrogen industry and we look forward to continuously serving the industry and celebrating its fast-paced advancements.”
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