Hydrogen cars next cab off the rank as demo servo opens

Marion Rae |

A refuelling and research station for hydrogen-powered electric cars is opening in Clayton, Victoria
A refuelling and research station for hydrogen-powered electric cars is opening in Clayton, Victoria

Locally produced green fuel will allow hydrogen-powered electric cars to travel over 600km emissions-free on a full tank, according to top scientists.

Victorian Industry Minister Natalie Hutchins will officially open a $2.5 million refuelling station in Clayton on Thursday to drive research and training for the emerging industry.

The refuelling station has a storage capacity of 80kg of hydrogen, enough for more than 10 hydrogen fuel-cell cars.

At present, there are two makes of hydrogen-powered car available in Australia – the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo – but only around 50 to 100 in use.

The servo is a key part of CSIRO’s work on developing a commercially viable hydrogen industry and could become a blueprint for a wider network.

“We’re giving people the chance to try the technology,” CSIRO hydrogen mission lead Patrick Hartley told AAP.

“This is a demonstration project … you have to learn by doing.”

As well as individual passenger cars, he said the technology would suit taxi fleets and delivery trucks because of rapid refuelling.

Hydrogen cars take four to six minutes to fill up from empty, with 12 hydrogen refuelling stations either operating or under construction in Australia.

Former chief scientist Alan Finkel, who spearheaded the development of the national hydrogen strategy and drives one of the few Toyota Mirai on Australian roads, will also be at the opening.

A file photo of a hydrogen car being refuelled
There are 12 hydrogen refuelling stations operating or under construction in Australia.

As vehicles get bigger, battery technology becomes more challenging, but the lighter weight of hydrogen fuel cell technology could suit Australian heavy industry, Mr Hartley said.

Hydrogen fuel cell trucks, buses and rubbish trucks are available in the United States, Europe, China and Indian markets, and CSIRO is eyeing future exports as well as domestic use of hydrogen.

The Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2) servo can produce approximately 20kg of hydrogen per day using renewable-powered electrolysis, led by Swinburne University of Technology researchers.

Swinburne Deputy Vice-Chancellor Karen Hapgood said the CSIRO-VH2 station would support urgent training needs and workforce development for the new industry.

The Queensland government is also investing in hydrogen-equipment manufacturing facilities, and will roll out five hydrogen refuelling stations as part of an East Coast HydrogenSuper Highway with NSW and Victoria.

AAP