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Multi-million investment in hydrogen storage

16 May, 2013

University of Queensland research has led to a $9.25 million investment in hydrogen storage innovation.

World leader in gases for industry, health and the environment Air Liquide and the Australian Government's Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund are investing the money in Hydrexia, a spin-off company from The University of Queensland.

UQ President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj said the deal was testament to UQ's outstanding global research profile.

"The University of Queensland's distinguished history in the solidification of metals confirms its contribution to ground-breaking engineering innovations," Professor Høj said.

"Research outcomes such as these are building on our existing reputation for excellence and add to the vast array of expertise UQ has demonstrated in the broader energy area, including our multidisciplinary energy initiative."

UQ researchers Professor Arne Dahle and Associate Professor Kazuhiro Nogita from the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering led the development of effective and reliable hydrogen storage technology in 2002, using a new magnesium alloy as a hydride.

Associate Professor Nogita said the pair used a natural solidification process to create an alloy that could absorb hydrogen at relatively low pressures, much like a sponge absorbs water.

"The hydrogen remains safely stored, being released when required by heating the alloy," Associate Professor Nogita said.

The commercial potential of the research resulted in UQ's commercialisation arm, UniQuest, creating start-up company Hydrexia Pty Ltd in 2006.

Hydrexia Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Ng said Hydrexia's storage systems had demonstrated commercial-scale hydrogen storage systems under field test conditions, delivering safety and practical advantages over conventional compressed gas systems.

He said the ability to produce the alloy using conventional casting equipment, and at large scale, generated significant economic benefits over hydrogen storage materials produced by high energy processes.

"We believe that Hydrexia's alloy – hydride –makes possible the production of high density and high performance hydrogen storage systems at a competitive price compared to existing compressed gas technologies," Ng said.

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