Fortescue, CSIRO to develop hydrogen tech in $20m partnership

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall and Fortescue Metals Group founder and chairman Andrew Forrest. Image: CSIRO

Fortescue Metals Group has agreed to fund CSIRO’s hydrogen R&D and select technologies for the next five years.

The $20 million partnership will initially focus on commercialising CSIRO’s metal membrane technology, which enables ammonia to be used as a carrier material for hydrogen storage and transport.

It will aim to make the transportation of hydrogen economically viable and allow the benefits of low emission fuel to be realised, paving the way for low emission export opportunities.

Fortescue founder and chairman Andrew Forrest said, “We are at the beginning of an energy revolution and Fortescue intends to be at the forefront of this once in a generation opportunity.

“As a proud Australian company, we are excited to partner with CSIRO, our nation’s preeminent science and research body, to unlock the potential of hydrogen, the low emission fuel of the future.”

Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said the partnership demonstrated the iron ore major’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint using cost-effective energy to fuel its operations.

The national science agency will work with Fortescue to commercialise technologies that support new energy markets, including in the chemicals and transportation sectors.

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said, “This partnership is great news for Australia, not just through new industry creation and the jobs that will flow from it, but in contributing to a different energy future that is secure, affordable and sustainable.”

Earlier this year CSIRO released a national hydrogen roadmap that provided a coordinated blueprint for developing Australia’s hydrogen industry.

Forrest said, “By combining CSIRO’s global leading research and development with Fortescue’s capability to rapidly develop new technologies, we will firmly establish our position in the global hydrogen industry.

“Importantly, we see potential for a significant export market in hydrogen and look forward to collaborating with third parties to ensure Australia’s leadership in the new energy economy.”

This collaboration builds on Fortescue’s conversion of the Solomon power station from diesel to gas generation and the development of the Fortescue river gas pipeline.