Today at the Asia-Pacific Hydrogen Summit and Exhibition, hosted by the Sustainable Energy Council and the Australian Hydrogen Council, Star Scientific Limited’s Global Group Chairman, Andrew Horvath gave a keynote speech.
In the speech, Mr Horvath announced Star Scientific’s second pilot project, for Central Coast packaging company Trendpac. Trendpac is a member of the Central Coast Food Hydrogen Cluster.
Mr Horvath also discussed Star Scientific’s optimistic view of the transition based on technological innovation.
Mr Horvath’s speech and associated media release are below.
Star Scientific is proud to be one of the main sponsors of this conference; as a member of the Hydrogen Advisory Board of the SEC, I lobbied hard to bring this conference to our shores. Australia has much to offer beyond our potential to make and export hydrogen. In my view, Our talent for innovation can accelerate this global transition more than a make-and-ship mentality can.
I want to acknowledge the many VIPs and delegates who have travelled from overseas at Star’s invitation to be here, and I would like to recognise Governor Grisham and Her Environment Secretary from the State of New Mexico, Mr James Kenney, who hosted Star Scientific when we visited that State last year.
Colleagues, we gather here in Sydney at a complex time for the energy transition; some may say we have entered troubled waters. Here in Australia, local communities are pushing back against the physical manifestations of the transition, be they solar or wind. Rural communities are expressing concerns about the sterilisation of farmlands, and coastal communities are protesting about offshore wind’s visual and environmental impacts. Hydro is not without its troubles, as we have seen with the Snowy Hydro II project. In the UK, we have seen the Government marching back the implementation dates for some of its policies. In Europe, we have seen protests about the cost to individuals of aspects of the transition.
My key message today is a message of resilience. We will get through these transition pains, and we will do so through the relentless march of technology and science. My message to regulators is to put policies in place to allow technological innovation to flourish, including in our schools, be open to innovation, and be wary about “locking in” technologies whose time may be limited.
Just as transport last century rapidly evolved from horse and steamships to personal cars and jet planes, the renewable energy sources of 2050 will look very different from today’s solar panels, wind turbines and batteries. What if there was something better?
Star Scientific makes it our business to scour the World for innovation on the supply side of the hydrogen equation, and I can tell you we have seen some fascinating technology indeed. These are not minor tweaks of existing technology but new, exciting ways of thinking.
At Star Scientific, we believe that human ingenuity and scientific curiosity’s relentless drive will overcome material issues. We believe this optimistic view is on the right side of history.
Our product, HERO®, which is on the demand side of the hydrogen equation, is an example of this ingenuity.
HERO® is the globally patented invention of Star Scientific Ltd, a private Research and Development company based on the NSW Central Coast.
About five years ago, as part of our materials research, we developed a profound breakthrough: an award-winning catalyst called the Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser, or HERO®.
HERO® chemically oxidises hydrogen and oxygen into high levels of heat very quickly and without any output other than pure water. In controlled experiments, a video you can see at our exhibition stand, we reach 700+ degrees Celsius in three minutes.
Indeed, earlier this week, we ran a live demonstration for the Australia-German Chamber of Commerce delegation and New Mexico Governor Grisham. I thank them for taking the time to visit our facilities.
The critical thing about HERO® is that it is a “true catalyst” – meaning it is not “used up” in the process. Once the gasses are removed, it reverts to its inert state. That disc you can see in this slide has been used hundreds of times and shows no deterioration.
HERO® is made from relatively common, non-toxic elements. We do not have the same supply-chain issues that other aspects of the renewable energy transition find challenging. Our inputs are sourced from responsible supply chains.
As we have developed HERO®, two clear commercial pathways have become apparent, but before I come to them, I would like to comment on the broader use of hydrogen in the energy transition.
Undoubtedly, it has been necessary for governments, consultancies, and investors to focus heavily on hydrogen’s supply-side issues of generation, storage and transport. However, not enough attention has been paid to the demand side of the equation.
We have noted the assumption in countless reports and at conferences like this one that the demand side – how to use hydrogen – will be met by fuel cells and by burning hydrogen. However, as our network of potential customers has been telling us, both have their limitations.
This is where HERO® fits in. It is the missing link in the hydrogen energy chain. It can extract the energy from the chemistry of hydrogen and use it without generating greenhouse gasses and without the engineering complexities of burning it.
The commercial pathways for HERO® are twofold. The first is for process heat, as a service, ranging in temperatures from 100 to 700 degrees Celsius. And the primary target here is the food sector.
To that end, we are currently working on two pilots, one for a Mars Foods Australia facility near us on the Central Coast and the other, and I am announcing for the first time today with packaging company Trendpac.
Indeed, we have formed our own cluster – the Central Coast Food Hydrogen Cluster, under the auspices of Central Coast Industry Connect.
The other opportunities lie in the area of facility-scale energy.
The orthodox thinking about how to liberate the energy from hydrogen is to burn it – to burn it either on its own or as a blend with natural gas.
At Star Scientific, we reject this. We don’t believe that you should burn hydrogen to liberate its energy. You don’t have to dig too far to find public statements from turbine manufacturers about the engineering problems of burning hydrogen, particularly blending it with gas. Aside from the engineering and efficiency issues related to hydrogen turbines, there are issues with their water use. Further, when you blend it with gas, you are creating greenhouse gases.
Therefore, we have this unreal situation where Premiers and Ministers are making promises about hydrogen-derived energy while the technology providers are, at best, ambiguous about their capacity to meet the stipulated timeframes.
The good news is that there is an alternative way to decant the energy from hydrogen for large-scale electricity generation without burning it.
This involves the mating of HERO® to the new generation of supercritical C02 turbines. These avoid the downfalls of combined cycle turbines – sCO2 is a proven technology, no greenhouse gasses need to be vented, and the systems are air-cooled, avoiding the massive water needs that wet-cycle combustion turbines require. To top it off, they are about 1/10th the size of an equivalent steam turbine and, therefore, easily transportable and deployable.
This has significant and exciting implications for energy justice and economic growth for those populations who, for geographic or historical reasons, do not enjoy access to a modern, large-scale energy grid that many developed countries have.
We are developing a technology program on sCO2 and look forward to updating you all on this project soon.
The mating of HERO® and supercritical CO2 turbines is a demand-side example of the relentless march of scientific inquiry and innovation in the quest to net zero. The same is happening on the supply side of green hydrogen, yet commentators seem to be overlooking it.
As I mentioned, there has been debate in the Australian media around the “stalling” of the energy transition. These articles invariably comment on the material limitations and political obstacles encountered by solar and wind technologies and the need to upgrade the grid. These issues often revolve around material availability, such as rare earths, even copper, or the sterilisation of farmlands or fishing grounds. They are also spilling over into the hydrogen area with queries about whether enough green electrons will be produced to meet our hydrogen requirements for domestic use and export.
The answer, of course, is that technological innovation doesn’t stand still. Visionary innovators and investors will solve some of these issues. We seem locked into an orthodox box that says the transition is all about masses of solar panels and giant wind turbines.
We take issue with the almost uncontested assumption that green electrons are locked into current solar, wind and hydro technology.
We are on the cusp of seeing alternate technologies. However, NDAs prevent me from disclosing these at this conference.
Of course, all of this takes money, and it is here that orthodox models have been problematic for many.
Developing technologies such as ours takes time and patience.
To date, we have been funded by an excellent group of patient, private, long-term investors. As we are single-minded in our vision, we have eschewed the financing path of public listing and venture capital, with their business-model bending demands for a quick return.
Our Board has also rejected funding offers from fossil fuel companies in accordance with the wishes of our investors. Government funding is complicated for a company with unorthodox technology like ours. In Australia, government funds are overly complex to apply for. This is especially so in the case of competitive tenders, where smaller companies will be up against larger companies with the resources to write long, compliant applications.
I am pleased to see recent suggestions that governments will increase their risk profile beyond wind, solar and electrolysers. They are looking at ways to make the application process more manageable.
Thankfully, our funding is well in hand through our funding partners, who are here today.
Star Scientific intends to develop a purpose-built research and development campus and mass manufacturing facility. While our preference is in the Central Coast/Hunter region, we also have Queensland and Victoria under scrutiny.
As you heard yesterday, we will develop a mirror facility in the United States and have chosen Albuquerque, New Mexico, as our preferred location.
We look forward to briefing you further in the near future and hope to see you at the SEC Conference in Rotterdam next year.
Australian Hydrogen Research and Development company Star Scientific Limited today announced that it was developing a second pilot project for Central Coast packaging company Trendpac.
Star Scientific Limited has developed the Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser (HERO®), a catalyst that converts hydrogen and oxygen into heat, without burning. There are no greenhouse gasses produced, and the only other output is pure water.
Trendpac is a private contract packaging company serving major companies and supermarket chains. Their products include shampoos and detergents, many of which are formulated and mixed on-site.
Trendpac is a founding member of the Central Coast Hydrogen Food Cluster, an initiative of Star Scientific Limited and Central Coast Industry Connect. Other founding members include Mars Australia Pty Ltd, for whom Star Scientific Limited is developing its inaugural pilot.
Group Global Chairman of Star Scientific Limited, Andrew Horvath, said that the company was delighted to be expanding its work with neighbouring companies.
He went on to mention that the orthodox view is that hydrogen’s role is to decarbonise heavy industry through complex and capital-intensive processes like “green steel”. While there is no doubt that is in the future, there is a lot of work that renewable hydrogen can do to decarbonise other industries, such as food production and packaging.
He further stated that the pilot for Trendpac is complementary to the work the company is doing for Mars. While both involve the greenhouse gas-free production of process heat they are slightly different industrial processes. The learnings of each will feed into the development of the other.
CEO of Trendpac, Steven Hyde, said “we are excited to be working with Star Scientific Limited as they develop practical and innovative equipment using HERO® within a production environment.”
Frank Sammut, CEO of Central Coast Industry Connect, also said, “Star Scientific is blessed to be in the middle of the Central Coast’s food production cluster at Berkeley Vale and to be working with companies who share our ethics on sustainability”.