[ASC-media] Media release: Experts discuss the future of hydrogen economy

Jacinta Legg jacinta.legg at science.org.au
Wed May 10 08:30:12 EST 2006

Australian Academy of Science - Media release
9 May 2006 


The future use of hydrogen as an energy source was the topic of
discussion at the annual Science at the Shine Dome symposium held in
Canberra last week.

Top researchers from across Australia and the United States in fields
such as physics, molecular biosciences, mathematics and organic
chemistry discussed how Australia can use science to advance to a
hydrogen economy.

"Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe.
However, like most useful substances, hydrogen is not without its
problems," Director of the CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship Program, Dr
John Wright explained during his symposium address.

"Hydrogen needs to be coaxed from its combination with other elements to
get the benefits. In specific combinations with oxygen it becomes
explosive and, being so light, it is a fugitive gas, which challenges us
to contain and store it appropriately," Dr Wright said.

Presentations during the symposium highlighted the need for renewable
energy options to counter rising fuel prices, finite energy supplies,
security, pollution and climate change that are current energy
challenges that hydrogen can offer a solution to.

International guest at the symposium, Dr George Crabtree from Argonne
National Laboratory in the United States said that although today's
technology enables several routes for producing, storing and using
hydrogen, none of them are yet competitive with the cost, performance or
reliability of fossil fuels.  

"Dramatic advances in the basic understanding of hydrogen and its
interactions with materials are needed before we can bring a hydrogen
economy to a practical realisation," Dr Crabtree said.

A practical application of hydrogen energy is currently being used in
Western Australia with three hydrogen buses transporting the public
around Perth.

The hydrogen symposium was the final session in the three day Science at
the Shine Dome event that included the election of 18 scientists as
Fellows into the Australian Academy of Science and the presentation of
11 awards in recognition of the contribution that individual scientists
have made to science.

"The symposium is an important annual event because it places important
research topics on the national agenda and allows Australian scientists'
to contribute to issues that are not only affecting Australia but the
rest of the world as well," symposium convenor, Dr Michael Barber said.

Further information on Science at the Shine Dome is available from the
Australian Academy of Science website at www.science.org.au/sats2006.
Transcripts from the symposium will be made available on the Academy

Further information: Symposium - Dr Michael Barber, CSIRO, 02 6276 6184.
Australian Academy of Science - Jacinta Legg 0409 331 366.

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