Australian startup H2X on the cleantech track
It’s been used since the 1970’s, but the renewable energy is gaining momentum. So what’s all the fuss about hydrogen?
It may be best known for the hilarious party balloons which turn voices squeaky, or less favourably, for the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. Yet, hydrogen is a remarkable renewable energy, which has staggering potential.
A natural molecule comprised of two atoms, hydrogen is the lightest element on the periodic table and is the most abundant element of all.
In hydrogen vehicles, for example, there is a fuel cell, in which the element reacts with oxygen, making electricity, which runs the vehicle. Instead of emitting carbon dioxide, as fuel-powered cars do, hydrogen vehicles emit only harmless water vapour.
What can hydrogen do?
Hydrogen energy can power vehicles and buildings, in many cases, just as fossil fuels do, but without emitting greenhouse gasses which are harmful to humans and to our atmosphere.
Furthermore, there is also speculation in the maritime industry, that hydrogen could power freighter ferries.
These stadium sized cargo ships are the reason seasonal fruit is available year round and what gets fast fashion items around the world so quickly. But these ferries produce almost 3% of the planet’s carbon dioxide emissions and an alternative is needed if the ozone layer is to be saved.
How is renewable hydrogen produced?
At present, 95% of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels. However, wind and solar energy can also create the element.
Hydrogen is a popular Australian export (where, unfortunately, so is coal), as the country has a high availability of solar and wind power to make renewable hydrogen.
Australian startup H2X has taken advantage of the abundance of the sun to create hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, powered by solar energy, produced in Australia and exported around the world.
H2X’s first vehicle (the ironically named Snowy) will be launched in 2022. There are also plans to create other models of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, such as taxis and tractors.
The startup was funded by Elvin Group and Denzo Limited and the H2X’s car plant will be constructed in Port Kembla (97km south of Sydney), which will bring employment to the area.
The local dock is large enough to transport cars onto cargo ships, but there is no word yet, on whether the freighter ferries which carry them to their future drivers, will also be powered by hydrogen.
Hydrogen energy in action
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been postponed because of the Coronavirus, but the committee had planned several events around carbon dioxide free, hydrogen technology.
When the opening and closing ceremonies do happen, the Olympic cauldron will be fuelled by hydrogen and parts of the torch relay are also going to use hydrogen fuel.
Furthermore, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota (the Olympics mobility sponsor), will provide 500 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, to transport Olympic officials around the venues throughout the Games.
As hydrogen is the most plentiful element in the universe, with no harmful consequences to our atmosphere when utilised as an energy, H2X certainly looks like it’s on the road to succes.
For more information on hydrogen fuel, please see here.