Emerging graphene-based product developer Sparc Technologies (ASX: SPN) has announced it will collaborate with the University of Adelaide on a unique technology which will deliver next-generation thermo-photocatalysis to produce commercially-viable ultra-green hydrogen.
The two parties will form a joint venture company known as Sparc Hydrogen to focus on advancing the cutting-edge process, which employs the sun’s ultraviolet light and thermal properties to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen without the use of an electrolyser.
Under the terms of the venture, Sparc will hold 72% equity and will develop graphene coatings for the photocatalyst and the use of graphene in the catalyst.
The University of Adelaide will hold the remaining 28%.
Sparc will also issue 3 million new shares to the University of Adelaide and will commit to a joint venture expenditure of $4.75 million over four-and-a-half years.
The total will be paid in instalments against pre-determined performance milestones including $2 million over the first two-and-a-half years (comprising stage one); a further $2.5 million over the next two years (stage two) and a final payment of $250,000 for operations set-up and a scholarship.
Sparc Hydrogen will target low capital and operating expenditures in the development of ultra-green hydrogen, as the process does not need to rely on renewable energy from wind farms and photovoltaic solar panels nor does it employ electrolysis.
The technology could potentially be adopted remotely and on location, reducing the reliance on long distance hydrogen transportation and electricity transmission.
It would also eliminate the footprint associated with massive-scale wind and solar farms.
Sparc executive chairman Stephen Hunt said he hoped ultra-green hydrogen would become a globally-disruptive process.
“Green hydrogen energy has been touted as a provider of base load electricity; however, it has struggled to compete against conventional fossil fuels,” he said.
“Our project offers a realistic pathway to achieving economically-feasible green hydrogen energy and to advancing industry to net-zero emissions.”
He said the University of Adelaide had submitted a provisional patent in April for the use of the entire solar spectrum to increase the project’s solar-to-hydrogen percentage rate.
Sparc has received firm commitments to raise $2.8 million (before costs) through a placement of 4 million shares at an issue price of $0.70 each, to help fund its cash contribution and costs of the proposed joint venture transaction.
Discovery Capital Partners and Westar have been engaged to act as joint lead managers and will receive a fee equating to 6% of the total proceeds raised.
Placement shares are expected to be issued in November.
How does photocatalysis work?
Photocatalysis is the acceleration of a photoreaction in the presence of a catalyst.
In catalysed photolysis, light is absorbed by an adsorbed substrate, whereas in photogenerated catalysis, the photocatalytic activity depends on the ability of the catalyst to create electron-hole pairs, which generate free radicals (such as hydrogen) which are able to undergo secondary reactions.
Photocatalytic water splitting is an artificial photosynthesis process with photocatalysis in a photoelectrochemical cell used for the dissociation of water into hydrogen and oxygen using light.
Theoretically, only light energy (photons), water, and a catalyst are needed for the process.