The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) will partner on hydrogen technologies to support the development of new industries, create jobs and pave the way for low emissions export opportunities.

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©John Nguyen Photography 2016.

The centrepiece of the $20m partnership, announced this week at CSIRO's Brisbane laboratories, and includes a five-year agreement to fund and support select CSIRO technologies in the hydrogen space.

The first of the agreements will focus on CSIRO’s metal membrane technology, which allows ammonia to be used as a carrier material for hydrogen storage and transport, making transportation of hydrogen economically viable and enabling the benefits of the low emission fuel to be realised.

CSIRO will work with Fortescue to identify, develop and commercialise technologies to support the creation of an Australian hydrogen industry and future global uptake.

The agreement includes commercialisation arrangements for the membrane technology, with a subsequent five-year investment in hydrogen R&D.

CSIRO's National Hydrogen Roadmap, released earlier this year, provided a coordinated blueprint for growing Australia's hydrogen industry and found that an economically-sustainable hydrogen industry could soon be a reality.

Fortescue Chairman, Andrew Forrest AO, believes that we are at the beginning of an energy revolution.

“Fortescue intends to be at the forefront of this once in a generation opportunity,” said Mr Forrest.

“By combining CSIRO’s global leading research and development with Fortescue’s capability to rapidly develop new technologies, we will firmly establish our position in the global hydrogen industry.

“Importantly, we see potential for a significant export market in hydrogen and look forward to collaborating with third parties to ensure Australia’s leadership in the new energy economy,” Mr Forrest said.

Chief Executive Officer, Ms Elizabeth Gaines commented that the agreement built on Fortescue’s previous energy initiatives, including the conversion of the Solomon Power Station from diesel to gas generation and the development of the Fortescue River Gas Pipeline.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall highlighted CSIRO’s strong history of collaboration with industry, not only by “helping existing industries reinvent themselves through global disruption”, but also inventing “entirely new industries”.

“Today we’re seeing a ‘market pull’ from companies like Fortescue to reinvent themselves through deep science-driven innovation and follow the global market shift towards a low-emissions energy future, and in so doing create a whole new export market for our vast clean energy resources,” Dr Marshall said.

“This partnership is great news for Australia, not just through new industry creation and the jobs that will flow from it, but in contributing to a different energy future that is secure, affordable, and sustainable.”

CSIRO will continue its own investment in hydrogen R&D, chiefly through its Hydrogen Energy Systems Future Science Platform (FSP), and will work with Fortescue to commercialise technologies that support new energy markets, including in the chemicals and transportation sectors.


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