AAD to Generate Hydrogen through Antarctic Winds

November 28, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) received a grant of $500,000 from the Australian Greenhouse Office to demonstrate the use of hydrogen generated by wind in Antarctica. The demonstration project at the remote Mawson site will research the safety and operational aspects of using hydrogen on station, as well as its viability as a major energy carrier.

Hydrogen will be generated using energy from the Mawson station's wind turbines, stored and used in a test fuel cell, as fuel in a heater and in one of the station vehicles. Two Enercon GmbH (Germany) wind turbines, capable of withstanding blizzards in excess of 300 kph, were recently installed. Together, the units provide 1 MW of electricity for use at the research station and for the hydrogen project, and lower the need for imported diesel fuel.

For the upcoming hydrogen demonstration project, the AAD plans to install the test fuel cell and heater at the field camp on Bechervaise Island, which will provide electricity and heat for scientists. By the completion of the project, the staff at AAD expects to gain sufficient information to be able to model the large-scale use of hydrogen to supplement their energy requirements.