Sparc inks new deal to progress green hydrogen pilot plant

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Sparc Hydrogen, a joint venture between Sparc Technologies, the University of Adelaide and Fortescue, has signed an agreement with Shinshu University in Japan that will target pilot testing of its photocatalytic water splitting (PWS) technology as a method to produce green hydrogen at commercial scale.

The two parties have signed a collaboration framework agreement and will now work together and pursue negotiations regarding the use of photocatalysts developed by Shinshu in solar reactors developed by Sparc.

Sparc is developing a photocatalytic reactor, patent pending, which seeks to efficiently take hydrogen from water molecules using concentrated solar.

An alternative to making green hydrogen electrolysis powered by renewable sources, PWS instead relies directly on sunlight, water and a photocatalyst.

Sparc said given lower infrastructure requirements and electricity use, PWS has the potential to deliver a cost and flexibility advantage over electrolysis.

Sparc Technologies Managing Director Nick O’Loughlin said the agreement with Shinshu University is a significant milestone for the project and will allow for the supply of their world-leading photocatalysts for testing in Sparc Hydrogen’s reactors.

“Sparc is delighted with the progress that the Sparc Hydrogen team has made over recent weeks and months with respect to key development workstreams for the pilot plant,” he said.

Other milestones include securing an in-principal agreement from the University of Adelaide to locate the pilot plant at its Roseworthy Campus, about 50 kilometres north of Adelaide, and progressing the detailed design and engineering for the pilot-scale water splitting reactor.

Sparc also said it has been working with an equipment supplier to ensure the reactor’s compatibility with their solar field design and has also identified manufacturing capability within Australia to support local construction of the PWS reactors.

“Each of these milestones represents material de-risking of the pilot plant development workstreams,” Sparc said, adding that recent prototype testing completed at the CSIRO Energy Centre near Newcastle in New South Wales had provided confidence in the underlying design principles for the pilot scale reactor.

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