Industry-first pilot using hydrogen in food manufacturing launches in NSW


Headquartered on the New South Wales Central Coast, Star Scientific has garnered much attention internationally  for its Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser, or HERO, technology. Now, for the first time that technology will be applied in an 18-month pilot with Mars Food Australia and not-for-profit Central Coast Industry Connect Limited.

The pilot will see Star Scientific’s HERO technology, which is driven by a catalyst reaction that generates temperatures of over 700 degrees celsius without combusting hydrogen, used to generate heat for industrial-scale sanitation in food manufacturing. Precisely how the hydrogen technology will be integrated though is still being finalised, with Star Scientific telling pv magazine Australia it is in a process of “translational research” before it confirms the exact configuration of the pilot.

A big part of this initial stage, the company said, involves Star Scientific and its partners working with government to ensure the pilot remains within regulatory frameworks – which do not yet include nascent hydrogen technologies.

Looking forward, Star Scientific confirmed that it had already begun sharing information with Mars Food Australia, and will soon undertake extensive testing and consultation with the food manufacturer, as well as regulators and relevant government agencies. 

Once completed, the company says the pilot will provide a foundational framework for the development of other heat sources used in food manufacturing.

Andrew Horvath presenting at the Australian Hydrogen Forum

Matt Hingerty/Twitter

Star Scientific’s Global Group Chairman, Andrew Horvath, has previously told pv magazine Australia that food industries were among the most interested in the company’s HERO technology and had shown an immense appetite for integrating new hydrogen technologies into their processes to reduce emissions.

The company also said it is currently “in advanced discussion with green hydrogen suppliers” and is hopeful that by the time it is ready to ‘flick the switch’ on the pilot, it will have a supply of green hydrogen – the only type of hydrogen which is actually zero emissions.

Central Coast Hydrogen Food Cluster

The pilot is part of the Central Coast Hydrogen Food Cluster, an industry-led hydrogen collaboration between Star Scientific and not-for-profit Central Coast Industry Connect Limited which launched last month.

“With the establishment of the Central Coast Hydrogen Food Cluster we have the platform for industry players to be involved in the development of alternative heat sources for the food industry using hydrogen,” Frank Sammut, Executive Director of the Central Coast Industry Connect, said.

“Having a global company like Mars Food Australia taking part in this first pilot project demonstrates the will and the need of industry to move forward with becoming truly ‘clean and green’ and will showcase the enormous opportunity of this technology in the local and international marketplace,” Sammut added.

“We are really excited about being able to demonstrate how our HERO® can pave the way for Australian food manufacturers to reduce emissions, and very grateful for the support from all levels of government for this pilot,” Star Scientific Chairman Andrew Horvath said. 

“For us, it’s a recognition of the critical role that the cluster will play as an ‘incubator’ of regulatory issues for the hydrogen supply chain and more specifically, ‘green’ hydrogen made from renewable energy. This will enable us to identify challenges and provide solutions,” he added.

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