Hydrogen storage
Image credit: Stock

 The University of New South Wales Sydney and H2Store have received a AU$3.5 million injection to develop a first-of-its-kind hydrogen energy storage system.

The energy storage system could provide cheaper and safer renewable energy storage than lithium-ion batteries.

Professor Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou and his team at the university’s School of Chemical Engineering expect their system, which offers cheap storage and transportation of hydrogen which they say will present a new source of energy storage within the next two years.

According to Professor Aguey-Zinsou, his invention would offer several significant advantages over lithium-ion technology for home energy storage.

The new funding will fuel the first phase of the four-stage project aimed at residential and commercial use, and aid the development of prototypes of the hydrogen storage solution, testing and demonstration units.

He said: “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.”

The solution is expected to outperform current storage systems in several respects, including reduced fire risk compared to Lithium-ion solutions, and a longer lifespan of 30 years – triple the lifespan of current technologies.

Hydrogen has already been highlighted as having massive potential for efficient energy storage.

The team plans to have a home storage unit ready by the end of 2019, rated to 5kW. These units its hoped will be on sale in 2020.

The university and partner H2Store are also working on a large-scale storage system for use by solar and wind DER facilities, including the design of storage vessels that will facilitate hydrogen export, thereby providing a replacement to diesel for remote generation and large transport requirements.

UNSW Dean of Engineering Professor Mark Hoffman said: “As an emerging renewable energy alternative, Australia has a real opportunity to lead to world in hydrogen storage, energy and transportation solutions.

“This is a very exciting project and I am very grateful to Providence Asset Group for investing in the pioneering work being done at UNSW.  I look forward to watching the developments over the next 12 months.”