Solar powers novel green hydrogen fuel technology


A partnership between the University of Newcastle (UON) and Southern Green Gas (SGG) has managed to develop a state-of-the-art green hydrogen fuel which was yesterday demonstrated in Hyundai’s Nexo Hydrogen fuel cell SUV. 

The technology extracts pure water from air, and then uses green energy generated from solar PV and split into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis, before said hydrogen gas can be used to fuel the car. 

“We’ve worked with Southern Green Gas to develop the ability to manufacture green hydrogen at a lab scale, the results of which we’re seeing demonstrated here today in the Hyundai hydrogen vehicle,” said Behdad Moghtaderi of UON. “Seeing this fuel hit the roads is a proud moment for my team, who have worked to perfect it over several years. We’re now looking forward to scaling this technology, working with Southern Green Gas toward commercial rollout and a wide range of possible applications.” 

What is more, the partners are not limiting themselves to hydrogen. Their remit, with the help of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the NSW Government, is the creation of carbon-neutral energy from Australian research and development and renewable resources, and in addition to hydrogen fuel they’re also developing manufacturing capability across other green fuels, such as green methane produced by combining the hydrogen with carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

The managing director of Southern Green Gas, Rohan Gillespie, said “Renewable methane has enormous potential to decarbonise the global mobility sector. We believe this technology represents an important pathway in achieving zero emissions driving worldwide and we are excited to work with our technology partners to make this vision a reality.” 

This vision, according to Gillespie, is to use this homegrown technology to deliver green methane, ‘clean natural gas’, to the world. The ‘carbon-neutral methane’ displaces fossil fuel based natural gas. “So what we do” continues Gillespie, is use the “carbon dioxide we extract from the atmosphere” to offset the carbon that is released when the methane is used. “So our methane can be used in existing gas fired power stations, just like natural gas, but when it emits CO2 it’s offset by the CO2 we’ve already extracted by the atmosphere, so it’s carbon neutral.” 

Of course, this green methane can also be turned back into hydrogen, should the end-user want it that way. 

Southern Green Gas’s image of what a multi-EV refuelling station with renewable methane would look like.

Image: Southern Green Gas

Interestingly, SGG’s speciality gas supplier is Coregas, the largest Australian-owned gases company, and a company which only last month received funding from the New South Wales Government to develop a hydrogen refuelling station at the Port Kembla site of BlueScope Steelworks. The station will work to support the introduction of zero emission hydrogen fleet vehicles in the region and greater New South Wales.

Coregas’s executive general manager, Alan Watkins, said the company was delighted to provide equipment and gas testing “of hydrogen generated by the technology, which passed with flying colours. We see an important future for clean gases powering the world’s electric vehicles, be they battery or hydrogen fuel cell.” 

The demonstration took place at Hyundai Australia’s hydrogen refuelling station in Bennelong, Sydney. 


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