Green hydrogen projects in Canterbury receive $4M boost

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Researchers from the University of Canterbury will lead attempts to promote green hydrogen energy in Aotearoa New Zealand after the government awarded $4 million to two projects.

The initiatives are financed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment’s Catalyst: Strategic New Zealand-Germany Green Hydrogen Research Partnership strategic financing scheme in collaboration with German researchers.

Today, three successful research projects were revealed, two of which were directed by University of Canterbury (UC) professors: Dr. Rebecca Peer, Dr. Jannik Haas, and Professor Aaron Marshall of Chemical and Process Engineering.

Green hydrogen is produced from renewable energy sources and is one of the few technologies capable of providing long-term energy storage, green fertilisers, and green steel, making it a hot topic as New Zealand attempts to achieve a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

Professor of Research and Vice-President for Research at the University of California, Ian Wright, describes the MBIE money as a tremendous endorsement. “We are really happy that researchers from the University of Canterbury are taking the lead in this vital area. As concerns about climate change increase on a global scale, there is a growing interest in green hydrogen, and these efforts could lead to exciting and much-needed advances.”

Drs. Rebecca Peer and Jannik Haas of the UC Department of Civil Systems Engineering are leading a project to construct an integrated energy system model for New Zealand that might supply sustainable transportation, heating, and electricity.

The project will receive $2 million in financing over three years from MBIE and €300,000 (NZ$478,700) from the German Ministry of Education and Research in conjunction with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), one of Europe’s top energy modelling groups.

According to Dr. Haas, this investigation will provide scientific data to assist New Zealand’s complete green hydrogen policy.

“The manufacturing and transportation sectors currently release a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gases in New Zealand. We want to understand the role of green hydrogen in meeting New Zealand’s net-zero target. Our initiative is meant to determine how much we can utilize it cost-effectively and for what purposes, including its potential as a fuel for planes and ships and its potential export to the Pacific Islands.

Professor of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of California, Aaron Marshall, is leading another New Zealand-Germany collaboration that has been awarded $2 million over three years. The objective of the project is to create a new type of electrolyser — a device that separates water into hydrogen and oxygen – to produce hydrogen energy at a lower cost.

Currently, the most efficient electrolysers are also the most expensive to produce, but Professor Marshall believes his team has the ability to greatly increase the efficiency of low-cost anion exchange membrane electrolysers, thereby making them economically viable.

“The project participants have complementary talents and abilities. We will perform nano-scale imaging of electrochemical processes in order to determine where gas is created and what makes the reaction more efficient. The results of this study could inspire additional research into energy production and utilization.”

Nedim Husomanovic

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