Cash flows for growing Geelong hydrogen industry

January 29, 2022 BY

Geelong Cemeteries Trust deputy CEO Frank de Groot and Austeng managing director Ross George. Photo: SUPPLIED.

A GEELONG engineering company will pioneer a hydrogen-based cremation process that could revolutionise Australian industries’ energy consumption.

North Geelong’s Australian Engineering Solutions (Austeng) will partner with Geelong Cemeteries Trust (GCT) for a new project to convert gas-fired crematorium furnaces to a blend of renewable hydrogen, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of the energy-intensive cremation process.

The plan will involve a feasibility study into the new technology followed by a prototype demonstration, then a knowledge sharing program targeting industry, the community and stakeholders.

If successful, the new technology would then extend to other types of fuel-fired furnaces and support their industries to transition away from fossil fuel use.

“The potential is enormous,” Austeng managing director Ross George said.

“This project is specifically for the death care industry but the developments we make will be applicable to many other gas-fired industrial appliances.”

The plan would initially target a hydrogen-gas blend for the medium term to encourage uptake while Australia’s hydrogen industry develops.

“It will create a demand for renewable hydrogen but if there is a supply gap in the initial stages the users won’t face any business interruption because they can still keep running on gas,” Mr George said.

Mr George also predicted the pioneering project would stimulate local manufacturing capability in the hydrogen industry, placing them at the forefront as an exporter of the growing technology.

GCT chief Darryl Thomas welcomed the transition plan and said his organisation was “gratified” to take a leadership role in promoting environmental change.

“This project is a terrific example of collaboration between Geelong organisations toward a common goal to improve environmental outcomes for the crematoria industry and beyond,” he said.

The proposal has support from the state government, which provided $100,000 from a hydrogen preparedness fund to back the estimated $240,000 work.

The government’s previous hydrogen investment has included a $1-million injection for a New Energies Service Stations project at Corio’s Viva Energy refinery.

The $29-million plan would create an industrial-sized electrical vehicle charging station and develop a hydrogen refuelling station to power an array of heavy vehicles, with an eye to developing the technology for use by trains, ships and aircraft.