Sparc Hydrogen pilot plant closer with new Japanese partner


Sparc Hydrogen is closer to announcing the development of its photocatalytic water splitting hydrogen production pilot reactor with the announcement of new international partners for the project.

A joint venture between Sparc Technologies, the University of Adelaide and Fortescue, Sparc Hydrogen has progressed several key workstreams that de-risk the development of the pilot plant, including signing a Collaboration Framework Agreement with Shinshu University in Japan.

Other milestones include securing an in-principle agreement from the University of Adelaide to locate the plant at its Roseworthy Campus and progressing the detailed design and engineering for the pilot scale water splitting reactor.

The reactor design will utilise solar energy from a linear Fresnel concentrated solar field.

Sparc Technologies Managing Director Nick O’Loughlin said: “Formalising a relationship with Shinshu University providing a collaboration for the supply of their world-leading photocatalysts for testing in Sparc Hydrogen’s reactors, is a significant milestone.”

The technology has already seen a pre-FEED study and successful prototyping work completed at the CSIRO Energy Centre in early April 2024 (pictured).

In parallel, work has continued in the laboratory to test and optimise Sparc Hydrogen’s photocatalytic water splitting reactor under a range of conditions using different photocatalyst materials.

Shinshu University is a key participant in Japan’s ARPChem project, a collaborative research initiative backed by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) which has demonstrated the feasibility of producing hydrogen through photocatalytic water splitting.

Participants in ARPChem include INPEX Corporation, JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corporation, Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., Dexerials Corporation, Toray Industries Inc., Toyota Motor Corporation, Nippon Steel Corporation, Furuya Metal Co., Ltd., Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. and Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation.

Universities and Research Institutes involved include Kyoto University, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Shinshu University, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo University of Science, Tohoku University, Nagoya University and Yamaguchi University.

Shinshu University Special Contract Professor Kazunari Domen said: “Shinshu University is pleased to collaborate with Sparc Hydrogen on the research, development and field testing of a concentrated sunlight water splitting photocatalytic reaction system.

“Such reaction environments have not been tested at Shinshu University before, and we are very interested to see what kind of activity and reaction characteristics our photocatalyst will exhibit.

“The knowledge gained will be important for the scale-up of the reactor.”

Further reading:
Sparc Hydrogen reports success with photocatalytic water splitting

Picture: CSIRO Energy Centre

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