Fortescue full steam ahead on green hydrogen venture

Brandon How

Fortescue Future Industries’ has grabbed a $1.8 million strategic stake in Adelaide-based Sparc Hydrogen, giving it access to novel green hydrogen technology developed by the University of Adelaide and Flinders University.

Sparc Hydrogen is attempting to commercialise a green hydrogen technology known as thermo-photocatalysis (TP), developed by a team led by University of Adelaide chemistry professor Greg Metha.

TP produces hydrogen using only water and sunlight. The process has the potential to significantly lower the capital and operating expenditure of hydrogen production, avoiding the high electricity requirements of electrolysis, the most common hydrogen manufacturing technique.

FFI takes a stake in Adelaide-based Sparc Hydrogen

Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) acquired 20 per cent in Sparc Hydrogen, which is a joint-venture between Sparc Technologies and the University of Adelaide (UoA). It has an option within the next 4.5 years to acquire a further 16 per cent for about $1.5 million.

It is hoped that the technology be used at the hydrogen’s point-of-use, reducing the need for long distance hydrogen transport or electricity transmission.

University of Adelaide executive Director Dr Stephen Rodda described the joint-venture as “a perfect example” of the university’s highly regarded research being put on a path to achieving a significant commercial outcome.

“The [university] is committed to partnering with industry to support the transfer and development of new technologies. This is a priority activity for the University. We have a long-standing track record of successful partnerships, and we will continue to invest in them long into the future,’’ Dr Rodda said.

“Critical to the success of any partnership is the alignment of goals and objectives. Sparc and FFI are clearly committed to the partnership, we are aligned in what we want to achieve, and they are investing the resources required to give this technology every chance to succeed.”

Sparc Technologies executive chairman Stephen Hunt said, “Sparc is extremely excited to be working with a company of the calibre of FFI, which has 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.”

FFI chief executive Julie Shuttleworth said, “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.

“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.”

This announcement comes after Fortescue’s recent acquisition of UK-based electrification pioneers Williams Advanced Engineering to support their target of reaching carbon neutrality for their operations and electricity purchases by 2030.

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