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ARENA commits $9.41m to facility that converts biogas from sewage into hydrogen

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has approved up to $9.41 million in funding for the construction and operation of a facility that will turn biogas from sewage into hydrogen and graphite.

Announced on September 2, ARENA confirmed the funding for Hazer, which will go towards the construction and operation of the hydrogen production facility in Munster, Western Australia.

Hazer is seeking to build a $15.8 million, 100 tonne per annum facility to demonstrate its proprietary hydrogen production technology, which converts bio-methane to renewable hydrogen and graphite using an iron ore catalyst.

Hazer will sell the renewable hydrogen for industrial applications and is exploring markets for graphite including carbon black, activated carbon and battery anode applications.

The company aims to use waste from wastewater treatment plants, landfill sites and other industrial locations to produce higher value hydrogen and graphite.

Construction is estimated to be completed by December 2020 and operations should begin in January 2021.

ARENA’s funding is contingent upon a funding agreement being executed subject to conditions including a biogas supply agreement, a hydrogen offtake agreement and Hazer securing sufficient finance for the completion of the project. The funding will account for 41 per cent of the total costs, including a contribution to operating costs.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said Hazer’s project aligns with ARENA’s new investment priority focussed on accelerating hydrogen.

“Renewable hydrogen is typically produced by splitting water molecules using renewable electricity. However, Hazer’s process represents an alternative way to produce hydrogen using biogas sourced from wastewater treatment plants. If successful, this project will offer opportunities to replicate the technology across other treatment plants and landfill sites across Australia,” he said.

“This technology could help set up Australia as an exporter of hydrogen, and open up new market opportunities from the graphite that is produced as a by-product of the hydrogen production process,” Miller said.

Hazer managing director, Geoff Ward, said the Australian government had been supportive through this important phase of commercial development of the project.

“There is very significant interest in the potential for hydrogen to play an important role in the Australian economy through providing energy storage, services in grid support and resilience, in direct use as a transport fuel, and as a source of low emission heat and power,” Ward said.