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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: June 18th 2003

:: HIsmelt Wins US Ally  

Western Australian State Development Minister Clive Brown has congratulated Perth's HIsmelt Corporation on forming a $US 2million development program to assess the use of HIsmelt's metal bath processing techniques in the hydrogen production process.

The assessment will take place in partnership with US firm Alchemiz, whose HydroMax process produces hydrogen from steam and carbon.

Brown said the development partnership demonstrated how Australian firms could participate in the development of the hydrogen economy.

"While fossil fuels will continue to supply the world with the vast majority of its energy requirements for many years, the adoption of hydrogen as an energy carrier will present many opportunities for companies with vision," he said.

"The challenge for industry is to recognise these opportunities and to act early."

The Minister said Western Australia was uniquely placed to be a major player in both the production of hydrogen and the development of new technologies.

"While the most environmentally friendly feedstock for the production of hydrogen is water, it is more than likely that natural gas will prove the most technically and cost-effective source in the short to medium term," he said.

"With vast reserves of natural gas and a rapidly growing oil and gas sector, WA has both the resources and the intellectual capital to be a major player in the hydrogen economy.

"Moreover, the challenges of providing cost-effective and reliable energy to rural and remote areas provide excellent opportunities for the development, testing and implementation of alternative energy solutions, such as hydrogen fuel cells."

Brown said the Government was already investing in WA's hydrogen economy future through an $8.16million commitment to trial hydrogen fuel cell buses in partnership with DaimlerChrysler, BP and Murdoch University in Perth over the next three years, confirmed recently by Transport Minister Alannah MacTiernan.

The pollution-free buses will operate on Perth CAT routes from the middle of next year as a part of a global research program aimed at commercialising the environmentally friendly technology.

The Minister said this investment was a significant step in WA's engagement with the hydrogen economy, and the Government was currently investigating the advantages of a broader partnership with industry, academia and other governments aimed at identifying opportunities for WA businesses.



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