PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Green energy developer Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) will joint venture (JV) with technology solutions provider Sparc Technologies to develop green hydrogen technology.
The JV between FFI, Sparc and the University of Adelaide, will be known as Sparc Hydrogen, with the company having an exclusive licence to develop and commercialise next-generation green hydrogen technology created by the University of Adelaide and Flinders University.
Sparc Hydrogen is researching technology which will see green hydrogen produced by only sunlight and water instead of renewable energy and electrolysis.
FFI’s initial Stage 1 investment of A$1.8-million will result in FFI acquiring a 20% interest in Sparc Hydrogen. At Stage 2, FFI could invest a further A$1.475-million into Sparc Hydrogen for a total investment of A$3.275-million over four and a half years to earn a 36% interest in Sparc Hydrogen.
FFI told shareholders on Wednesday that Sparc Hydrogen’s promising early-stage technology has the potential to create significant energy efficiencies and a cost-competitive advantage with low capital and operating expenditure required compared to renewable energy and electrolysis.
The company said that the investment built on the announcement last week that Fortescue had entered into an agreement to acquire UK-based Williams Advanced Engineering to support the decarbonisation of Fortescue’s mining operations and deliver on the company’s target to achieve carbon neutrality for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2030.
FFI is aiming to use and develop emerging technologies to demonstrate to the world that the decarbonisation of heavy industry is possible and then deliver that technology to the significant global market. In the case of Sparc Hydrogen, if this early-stage technology is successful, it could ultimately be used to help produce green hydrogen at a larger and more affordable scale.
FFI is also building one of the largest electrolyser factories in the world in Gladstone, Queensland with the first sod due to be turned this month. This technology will complement our existing world-leading work in green hydrogen research, technology development and production.
“There is irrefutable scientific evidence that the planet is warming. Green hydrogen is a practical, implementable solution to decarbonise hard to abate sectors, including heavy industry,” FFI CEO Julie Shuttleworth said.
“The research being undertaken by Sparc Hydrogen is important for FFI’s growing technology portfolio as we continue to develop technologies to lower emissions globally. We are excited to enter into this relationship and to support this critical research into green hydrogen.”
Sparc Technologies executive chairperson Stephen Hunt said that the company was extremely excited to be working with FFI, which had demonstrated its credentials as being a world-leading company in green hydrogen.
“FFI is well placed to assist the development and commercialisation of Sparc Hydrogen’s green hydrogen photocatalytic technology,” he added.
The initial research project to be undertaken by Sparc Hydrogen will seek to further develop a process known as thermo-photocatalysis, which employs the sun’s radiation and thermal properties to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen. Adopting this process to produce green hydrogen means that independent generation of renewable energy from wind farms or photovoltaic solar panels, does not need to be produced for hydrogen production, nor does the process of electrolysis need to be employed.
University of Adelaide executive director, innovation & commercial Dr Stephen Rodda said the University of Adelaide is committed to partnering with industry to support the transfer and development of new technologies.
“Central to this is working with partners that are aligned in the strategic objectives and goals to be achieved. Bringing FFI into the Sparc Hydrogen JV is a tremendous outcome and one that the University of Adelaide is proud to be party to.
“Not only is FFI’s hydrogen energy strategy strongly aligned to that of Sparc Hydrogen, but FFI will also bring a high level of capability and expertise to support the successful development of this innovative technology,” Rodda said.