Researchers at UNSW Sydney (Australia), with partner H2Store, an Australian start-up, have received a $3.5-million investment from Providence Asset Group to develop a hydrogen hydride storage system that could mean cheaper, safer storage for renewable energy for a range of applications, including residential.
Professor Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou and his team at UNSW’s School of Chemical Engineering have developed a system that provides cheap storage and transportation of hydrogen which they expect will provide a new alternative for energy storage within two years.
Professor Aguey-Zinsou’s research group’s expertise is in the synthesis, characterization and application of nanosized hydride materials—i.e. materials such as magnesium hydride (MgH2) and lithium borohydride (LiBH4) capable of storing hydrogen. Their research focuses on the fundamental understanding of the behavior of hydride materials at the nanoscale (i.e. with a particle size below 10 nm).
The funding will help them deliver phase one of a four-stage project that includes the creation of prototypes of their hydrogen energy storage solution for residential and commercial use; demonstration units; and testing and optimization that will enable full commercialization of the product.
Professor Aguey-Zinsou believes that his invention would offer significant advantages over current power storage solutions for home solar systems, such as the Tesla Powerwall battery.
We will be able to take energy generated through solar panels and store it as hydrogen in a very dense form, so one major advantage of our hydrogen batteries is that they take up less space and are safer than the lithium-ion batteries used in many homes today. We can actually store about seven times more energy than the current systems.
This means that in a residential scenario, people will be able to store a lot more energy using the same footprint as Tesla batteries, to potentially power their home, charge their cars and still have excess to sell back to the grid.—Professor Aguey-Zinsou
Professor Aguey-Zinsou is one of the co-founders of H2Store.
UNSW and H2Store expect their solution to offer other advantages over current energy storage systems, including a lifespan of about 30 years compared with less than 10 for other systems.
As the hydrogen technology develops, we will see a new cost-effective alternative to chemical batteries, remote electricity generation, household heating and increased range of hydrogen vehicles. Over the next two years we will develop a range of storage options for individuals, households and energy providers, including a solar farm ‘battery’ system to provide grid stability across Australia.—Llewellyn Owens, H2Store CEO and Co-founder
The team hopes to have a 5 kW home storage system prototype ready by the end of 2019 and a product on the market late in 2020.
The researchers are also working on a large-scale storage system for solar and wind farms that will include the design of storage vessels suitable for hydrogen export. These vessels have potential to replace diesel in remote generation and large transport applications.
Dedicated to the “green city life” concept, the Providence Asset Group invest in and develop clean and cost-effective renewable technologies.