By OSCAR PERRI
Making water out of thin air? They’re doing it in Tennant Creek. It’s called atmospheric water capturing technology.
Early results from the groundbreaking hydrogen technology trial are showing promising signs for the NT government’s plan for a new export industry, with further tests to come next week.
The technology, called Aqua Aerem, is a joint venture between Australian companies Axcentium and Ahurei, and is receiving in-kind support from the NT government and its Territory Generation.
Axcentium CEO Gerard Reiter says the technology has exceeded their expectation in how well it would be able to capture water in such a low humidity environment.
Tennant Creek was chosen because its ample sunshine can produce the electricity needed to make hydrogen by splitting water molecules that can be stored and used later to generate energy.
This is just the first step on the path to a renewable hydrogen industry in arid areas though more work has to be done to turn the new technology into a mass produced and affordable item.
That includes figuring out current issues with transporting hydrogen efficiently. Due to its low density it is not yet suitable for export although Mr Reiter says he trusts research underway will solve the problem.
“Very large corporations in the world are working on various transport mechanisms. For example right now there’s a trial shipping hydrogen from Victoria to Japan using liquid ammonia.”
The technology also has potential to be used for purposes other than hydrogen production, in the mining and agriculture industries, but also as a failsafe for water stressed communities suffering drought, similar to desalination plants in coastal areas.
The plan is to make the devices modular, so if you need to produce more water, you can just add another to the system.
Mr Reiter says that he thinks they could be up and running in 2027 if all goes to plan.
“The Tennant Creek trials are really key to get the technology working and set up for a large scale.
“It’s unique what we’re doing in that it’s designed to operate off the electricity grid and also produce its own water.”
PHOTO: Dr Jarrod Ward on the left, Gerard Reiter on the right, the Co-founders of Aqua Aerem.
UPDATE June 22, 10.45am
As the current trial is a pilot program, Mr Reiter says they don’t have a figure for the price per litre of a full scale unit yet. However, he says the long term target price once the systems are being built on a large scale manufacturing run is one cent per litre.