Truck maker PACCAR is apparently about to team up with Victoria’s Deakin University as it opens the first Hydrogen Transition Centre in Australia, with the aim of establishing hydrogen as a clean, low emission fuel for trucks in the future.

Deakin has established the facility at its Warrnambool campus in the south west of Victoria announcing that it will partner industry for the new research and testing site, which is budgeted to cost $20milion.

Australia’s chief scientist Allan Finkel, has in recent times said that Australia could have an enormous future as a producer and global supplier of clean ‘green’ hydrogen as a fuel for vehicles, for use in steel production and other fuel needs.

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin said freight trucking continues to grow here and overseas, and trucks are driving further, with heavier loads; all big challenges.

“The centre confirms Deakin’s commitment to the Warrnambool campus and the broader region, and when the HyceL@Warrnambool project is fully established it will create up to 200 full-time jobs,” he said.

The Hydrogen Transition Centre in Warrnambool  has received $2 million in Federal research funding to develop hydrogen fuel cells  for use with electric vehicle technologies and with the multi-billion dollar hydrogen market.

“The Federal Government investment will see our researchers partner with Australia’s leading truck manufacturer, Kenworth, as well as with industry leaders in hydrogen fuel-cells, electric vehicles and gas distribution,” said Professor Martin.

PACCAR’s parent in the USA has been working with auto giant Toyota  on Hydrogen powered trucks for use at the Port of Long Beach so an involvement in the local research centre would be a logical and smart move.

While not confirmed yet it is believed the truck marker will announce a tie up shortly.

“If successful, the enhanced technologies could be used by Kenworth trucks made here in Australia, as well as those made internationally by Kenworth’s parent company PACCAR,” said Professor Martin said.

A research centre like HyCel@Warnambool has the capability of making Australia a potential leader in hydrogen fuel cell technology and development. At the core of the technology is a fuel cell, which uses hydrogen in a chemical reaction with catalyst metals to create electricity with the only emission being water. One of the biggest challenges is that gathering the hydrogen and making it suitable for use is an energy intensive process. However with Australia’s vast potential for solar and wind power, it could give  the nation a potentially massive advantage in creating green hydrogen as opposed to ‘brown’ hydrogen generated by using power from carbon emitting sources. It is believed the global fuel-cell market could be worth in excess of $70 billion.

The Deakin Hydrogen Transition Centre will be at the centre of Australia’s work in hydrogen fuel-cell innovation and position the region well, to cash-in as new markets for hydrogen technologies emerge in the international push for cleaner transport says the university.

It is understood that the new centre will also develop and test hydrogen safety systems as well as distribution looking at methods for safe transport of hydrogen potentially using natural gas pipelines.

The centre is also aiming to support Victoria’s south west region as it works toward becoming a producer of green hydrogen as an export product.