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Rural partnership studies novel fuel source

Rural partnership studies novel fuel source

Locally produced hydrogen could be used as a fuel or in the production of fertilizer

By Jim Algie

Bruce County and Saugeen First Nation officials recently announced a partnership to study and demonstrate hydrogen production tactics that could provide new sources of non-carbon energy for a variety of agricultural uses, including machinery fuels and ammonia production.

In a statement, Bruce warden Mitch Twolan and Saugeen chief Lester Anoquot expressed strong support for job growth potential in transportation, heating and agriculture from their joint “clean energy initiatives.”

“Hydrogen has numerous game-changing, power-to-fuel applications that, if embraced, can lead the transition away from fossil fuels,” Twolan said in the March 7 statement.

Engineers of mass transit and highway transport vehicles, particularly in British Columbia and California, have begun to adopt the fuel. To date, hydrogen as fuel has relatively limited development for agriculture.

Hydrogen is a naturally-occurring element that can be generated from water by subjecting it to electrical current.

The resulting gas can then be stored for future use or combined with nitrogen to produce ammonia, often used as agricultural fertilizer.

Geology of the Bruce County region – which includes traditional, Saugeen Ojibwa territory – also permits large-volume underground storage of hydrogen, Jill Roote, Bruce County’s economic development manager, said in an interview.

The plan awaits funding from federal government grant applications to demonstrate how surplus electricity from the region’s Bruce Power, one of the largest nuclear power developments in the world, might generate hydrogen fuel through electrolysis. The county is also home to more than 100 wind turbines, which are also potential non-carbon electricity sources for hydrogen production.

“We think (the project) ticks all the right boxes so we’re pretty confident that we will get the (federal) funding” for a three-year initial phase, Roote said.

“We’re creating energy all the time but we’re not necessarily using it all the time,” Roote said. The hydrogen production project could be another way to use this energy.

DarcyMaulsby/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

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