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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

‘Pure freshness’: Australia’s first hydrogen cars and refuelling station

Cars that make the air cleaner – that create less pollution the more they travel? They might sound like a science fiction paradox, but hydrogen cars have arrived in the ACT.

The first 20 hydrogen vehicles registered in Australia will become part of the ACT Government’s fleet next week, while Australia’s first publicly available hydrogen vehicle refuelling station officially opened this afternoon in Fyshwick.

The Hyundai NEXO is 100% clean, said Shane Rattenbury, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction. It produces nothing more than water out of the tailpipe, and the fuel is produced by 100% renewable energy.

“This helps us not only tackle our transport emissions here in the ACT, but puts the ACT at the forefront of new technologies,” Mr Rattenbury said.

The Hyundai NEXO. Picture: Nick Fuller

An air filtering system cleans the air to 99.99%; it sucks all particulates and toxins out of the air, and replaces it with ‘pure freshness’, Hyundai Chief Operating Officer, John Kett said.

The average driver drives 13,000 km each year; if the NEXO travels that distance, it will purify 21.6 tonnes of fresh air, while the ACT’s 20 vehicles will purify 432 tonnes, Mr Kett explained.

Hydrogen refuelling pump fyshwick
The hydrogen car refuelling pump in Fyshwick, ACT. Picture: Nick Fuller

“Imagine if the greater proportion of our cars and our trucks and our busses were of hydrogen or electric power,” Mr Kett said. “We imagined this, and today is our first step in demonstrating commitment to the zero emissions economy.”

The fuelling station was built by renewable energy power producer Neoen Australia in partnership with ActewAGL.

The NEXOs take five minutes to refuel, and use 0.95 kg of hydrogen per 100 km. The hydrogen is produced on site. Electricity splits demineralized water into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere, and the hydrogen is stored, compressed, and pumped into the vehicle.

At the moment, this is the only hydrogen fuelling station in Australia, but other states already have plans to build ones – some will produce up to 4.5 tonnes of hydrogen per day.

As more fuelling stations are built, Mr Rattenbury and Mr Kett expected more vehicles on the road. 10,000 Hyundai NEXOs were sold in South Korea last year – and within a few years, they could be as popular in Australia.

Mr Rattenbury envisages a future where larger vehicles, ships, trains, trams, and some smaller cars run on hydrogen, while the public drive electric cars.

The price of hydrogen was falling, Mr Kett said; its parity to diesel and petrol was closing quickly. Now it was a question of infrastructure. Mr Kett hoped the ACT hydrogen car fuelling station could stimulate discussion about commercial investment in hydrogen.

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