Australia’s CSIRO successfully tested their hydrogen stored in form of ammonia during driving tests with FCVs by Toyota and Honda. Their novel membrane essentially reverses the Haber-Bosch process, which usually transforms hydrogen into ammonia.
Testing of what CSIRO called “ultrapure” hydrogen commenced in Pullenvale, Brisbane with the CEO of CSIRO, Larry Marshall taking a ride himself in the fuel cell vehicles supplied by Toyota and Hyundai.
CSIRO says their method allows to store and transport hydrogen more safely and effictively. Ammonia holds about twice as much energy than liquid hydrogen and is easier to ship and distribute.
In order to make it workable, CSIRO developed a novel membrane to extract hydrogen out of ammonia. The principal researcher Michael Dolan explained the process to Renew Economy as follows: “We are effectively undoing the Haber-Bosch process [which has traditionally been used to transform hydrogen into ammonia], starting with hydrogen from a source, where you take nitrogen out of the air and make ammonia, which we think helps transport hydrogen over long distances and long time scales.”
Dolan added that it is a chemical process but one that can be fuelled by renewable electricity so it is considered a low-emissions process to generate hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles.
The project of Australia was supported by BOC that belongs to The Linde Group. They contributed over $100,000 in-kind gas products and equipment as well as technical expertise to the $3.4 million project.
CSIRO is now looking to apply their hydrogen storage solutions in real life.
While the firm claims their solution to be the first of its kind, British researchers had taken a similar approach in 2014. The scientists from the ISIS Neutron Source facility in Oxfordshire managed to extract hydrogen from ammonia with the help of sodium reportedly.
A more recent attempt at an ecological solution to power fuel cell vehicles took place at the TU Eindhoven last year. The team FAST used formic acid also known as ant secretion. It was made from CO2 and hydrogen, both from renewable sources. Hydrozine the students call their invention that could prove revolutionary given that synthetic formic acid is usually made from petrol. FAST hopes to get a first production facility together with Volta Chem.