WA Climate Action Challenge invites students to create sustainable solutions

ECU PhD student Sadia Afrin with team mentor Dr Muhammad Rizwan Azhar.
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Edith Cowan University (ECU) students from the School of Engineering, Master of Business Administration and Biomedical, who’ve dubbed themselves HydroMega, have won the WA Climate Action Challenge 2024.

The two-week competition is run by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (JTSI) and involved nine student teams from ECU, The University of Western Australia (UWA), Curtin and universities in the South-Asia Gulf region.

“Our concept was to collaborate with government and industry to obtain clean, sustainable energy sources for hydrogen in Western Australia and Australia that allows for a future where hydrogen powered cars are more prevalent than electric vehicles (EVs),” team leader, PhD student Sadia Afrin says.

“Hydrogen refuelling takes less time in refuelling than EV charging, providing long distance travel flexibility and when combined with electricity, hydrogen is a more practical low-carbon emission option than EVs.”

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The online innovation program is powered by Practera, and is aimed at creating ideas and innovations that can create practical and effective decarbonisation solutions.

“Hydrogen fuel generates water vapor as a byproduct, with zero tail pipe carbon emissions, and requires less thermal and energy input. Even though major production of hydrogen-based fuels is not yet underway, given its potential benefits to the economy and environment, the matter needs to be given greater focus on a larger scale,” she says.

ECU entrepreneurs for a greener future

HydroMega’s team mentor, ECU chemical engineering Lecturer and award-winning researcher, Dr Muhammad Rizwan Azhar says the students’ project paves the way for a cleaner, lower-carbon future.

“This project offers plenty of benefits, from skills development to economic growth, climate consciousness to community engagement. HydroMega is poised to transform industries and drive positive change,” Dr Azhar says.

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“Federal and State Governments have been investing in hydrogen production technologies and there is a great need to easily and effectively store and transport hydrogen to facilitate these vehicles on our roads.

“HydroMega looks forward to developing near ambient conditions for storage and transportation of hydrogen in cheap and naturally abundant WA-based materials. Fuel cell electric vehicles could prove more effective options for our regional areas particularly in the minerals and mining sectors,” he says.

The team shared in a $2000 prize for their project.

“The program provided us with a great opportunity to put to use the knowledge, skills and problem-solving abilities learnt over our time at ECU,” Ms Afrin says.

“Together, we are making a positive impact on our planet and paving the way for a greener, more sustainable future.”

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