Works begin at Australia's first hydrogen fuel cell research facility

Deakin University

Monday, 01 August, 2022

Works begin at Australia's first hydrogen fuel cell research facility

Works have begun at Australia’s first hydrogen fuel cell research and development facility at Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus, with construction expected to be completed in late 2023.

The Hycel Technology Hub is a cornerstone facility within Deakin’s $23 million hydrogen research and innovation program, including co-funding by the Victorian Government ($9 million) and Deakin University ($5 million). The project has also secured significant federal government support and funding.

The Hycel Technology Hub will see the development, assembly, testing and demonstration of hydrogen fuel cells, with a focus on developing fuel cells for heavy vehicles, starting with heavy haulage trucks, and potentially progressing to other larger scale uses including trains or boats.

Hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen into electricity that can then be used to power vehicles and similarly in stationary applications to power or heat homes, businesses and industry.

The project includes the construction of a new 2200 m2 facility at the Warrnambool campus with specialised fuel cell assembly and testing equipment and a heavy vehicle integration bay, along with training facilities and a multifunctional space for education and demonstration activities.

Deakin is also using the funding to create a new hydrogen curriculum for primary and high schools, as well as hydrogen short courses for professional engineers, and is also seeking to develop a hydrogen bus training package in collaboration with vocational and industry partners.

The facility will form part of a broader hydrogen precinct on the campus which currently includes the existing Hydrogen Test Beds, where researchers from Deakin’s Institute of Frontier Materials are testing the efficacy of plastic piping in order to understand if Australia’s gas network can safely transport 100% hydrogen in the future.

Other proposed hydrogen projects within the precinct include a hydrogen boiler demonstration using 100% hydrogen fuel for domestic hot water and hydronic heating, as well as potentially supporting Warrnambool Bus Line’s new hydrogen bus refuelling station and depot as they convert their fleet from diesel to hydrogen fuel cell buses, making it the first public bus deployment of its kind in Australia.

The Hycel Technology Hub is being built by south-west Victorian group Fairbrother Construction, with construction expected to be completed in late 2023. It will support up to 200 jobs over the life of the project, including around 50 construction jobs and 16 in the energy sector.

“Deakin is combining its expertise in science, technology and education to meet the needs of Australia’s emerging hydrogen industry,” said Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin. “Our Warrnambool Campus will be a hydrogen precinct of research, innovation and training. We are thrilled to collaborate with local and national industry partners to focus on advancing hydrogen as a fuel in transport and pipelines.”

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