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by Tim Beissmann

Australia’s federal industry and science minister has officially unveiled the country’s first hydrogen-powered car, the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell, and opened Australia’s first hydrogen vehicle refuelling station at the South Korean car maker’s Sydney headquarters.

Minister Ian Macfarlane today also announced an industry working party designed to speed up the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology in Australia – a program that could create jobs in the engineering and manufacturing sectors with the future roll-out of refuelling infrastructure.

Macfarlane praised Hyundai’s pioneering work in bringing hydrogen vehicle technology to Australia.

“I congratulate Hyundai for this fuel cell concept and the steps that it’s taken since 2000 with the Santa Fe through to Tucson and today’s ix35 SUV version,” Macfarlane said.

“The vehicle and the associated refuelling station here in Sydney is a very exciting first step towards one day having a network of refuelling stations right across the eastern seaboard and ultimately right across Australia. This is the fuel of the future.”

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The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell is the first hydrogen-powered vehicle to be permanently based in Australia. It arrived in June 2014, and has been undergoing operational trials as a toe-in-the-water exercise towards assessing the commercial viability of emissions-free hydrogen-powered vehicles in Australia.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia CEO Charlie Kim said he hoped the company’s bold step in bringing hydrogen technology Down Under would excite and inspire other Australians.

“In February 2013, Hyundai Motor Company became the first automobile manufacturer in the world to begin mass-production of a hydrogen-powered vehicle, the ix35 Fuel Cell,” Kim said.

“The fact that we have brought one to Australia is testament to how important the Australian market is to Hyundai, and how seriously we take our environmental responsibility.”

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Built in Ulsan, South Korea, the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell uses a fuel cell stack to generate electricity from the reaction of hydrogen and air with the electrodes of the stack. The electricity then powers an electric motor, which produces 100kW and 300Nm, allowing the car to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 12.5 seconds and up to a top speed of 160km/h.

The hydrogen refuelling station in Macquarie Park, Sydney, currently uses hydrogen provided by gas partner Coregas Australia, but will soon create its own hydrogen onsite through the use of an electrolyser and solar panels.

The refueller Hyundai Australia has installed is a small 350-bar compressor, which takes about five minutes to fill the ix35 Fuel Cell from empty and provides it with a driving range of approximately 300km.

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Unlike in parts of Europe and North America, there are currently no plans for national hydrogen infrastructure in Australia, but Kim says the car maker strongly supports the idea of the development of ‘Hydrogen Highway’ infrastructure to link the country’s major cities.

“One of our ideas is the ‘Hume by Hydrogen’, which could link Australia’s two largest cities via the nation’s capital,” Kim said. “It would require refuelling stations in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Goulburn and Albury and could see hydrogen vehicles, including buses, running on a busy highway emitting nothing but water vapour.

“A project like the ‘Hume by Hydrogen’ would demonstrate the benefits of hydrogen transport very effectively. We would like our ix35 Fuel Cell to start a meaningful conversation about this technology for the benefit of future generations.”

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Kim said the company’s initial discussions with federal ministers about the ix35 Fuel Cell had been very positive.

“The presence of the federal minister for industry and science at our official launch today is also a great indication of the desire to have a meaningful conversation about the technology and its potential,” he said.

“An industry working party will play an important part in helping to frame that conversation and suggest options for supporting policies.”




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