OZ Minerals: Think & Act Differently (TAD) - a discovery-driven incubator
Providing a unique approach to innovation, TAD attracts the best minds from both inside and outside the mining industry, aiming to connect dots in new and exciting ways. Active participation from a network of people across multiple industries, organisations, community groups, governments, research organisations and others who want to play a role in solving complex challenges has been recognised as being key to its success, contributing to an outcome which allows for increased access to tools, skills and processes to find new, low-impact ways to mine, process minerals, and create valuable opportunities for our society.
Supported by its TAD team, OZ Minerals launched Hydrogen Hypothesis with the intent of understanding what the opportunity of hydrogen could be and what technology needs to be unlocked to get the benefit from Hydrogen.1 Hydrogen Hypothesis utilises innovators both internal and external to the mining industry to investigate the prospective role of hydrogen in a transition to zero-emission mining, working with the current challenges facing green hydrogen supply chain: infrastructure, expense, and availability.
The purpose of Hydrogen Hypothesis is to inquire into advanced solutions, aiming to find practical applications for hydrogen within mining operations, captured within an overarching intent of achieving the OZ Minerals goal of emitting zero Scope 1 emissions and striving further to reduce Scope 2 and 3 emissions.
To understand hydrogens’ capabilities, seven groups ran different experiments covering the entire value chain. The groups spent three months undertaking experimental research with fortnightly check-ins to evaluate and share progress and potential learnings. These seven efforts are described below:
Supercritical: A UK seed start-up Explored innovative technology of high pressure and temperature electrolysis for the production of green hydrogen. Prospects related to lower production costs and environmental impacts with results indicating the technology has the capability to reduce the current levelled cost of hydrogen by 20-30 percent compared to conventional PEM technology.
Carbon 280: An Australian start-up Investigated atmospheric pressure storage solutions using a mineral oil and magnesium solution. The technology was proven to offer potential opportunity to provide a fully decarbonised off-grid solution when integrated with renewable energy and hydrogen production.
Hydrogen Highway: In partnership with OZ Minerals Inquired into decarbonisation options and hydrogen based concentrate haulage. The research showed opportunity to utilise hydrogen as substitute for battery power, potentially leading to a reduction in Scope 1 emissions by 20 percent by 2026.
Carnot: UK based pre-seed start-up Investigated ultra-efficient ceramic engines running on diesel or hydrogen, providing an alternative to hydrogen fuel cell technology for power supply in generators or for haulage. The results indicate a significant relationship between reduction in emissions and total cost of ownership through diesel.
FlyH2 Aerospace: A South African seed start-up Experimented with hydrogen powered drones for remote monitoring of infrastructure, potentially enabling longer range and flight duration compared to current battery power options.
Avid Group: Australian based renewable business Conducted testing of hydrogen powered lighting towers for remote operations. Whilst further work is required to optimise the design the of the system, potential impacts of the technology could see removal of diesel towers through the clean hydrogen powered alternative.
YaKum Queens: Canadian collaboration between Queens University and YaKum Consulting Group Planned to undertake research into hydrogen-based reduction of copper solutions as an alternative to electrowinning. Research was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.