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New SFU-based Clean Hydrogen Hub to fuel clean energy research and innovation

May 31, 2024
The SFU Clean Hydrogen Hub, housed at the university’s Burnaby campus, will scale up hydrogen technology with industry partners to decarbonize Canada and export around the world, thanks to funding from government, industry, organization and research partners. From left, Sarah Goodman, president and CEO of B.C. Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy; Roger Dall'Antonia, president and CEO, FortisBC; City of Burnaby Coun. Daniel Tetrault; Hon. Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation; Hon. Terry Beech, Minister of Citizens' Services; Joy Johnson, SFU president and vice-chancellor; Steven Holdcroft, scientific director of the SFU Hydrogen Hub and Canada Research Chair; and Simon Cassegrain, senior research and development polymer chemist at Ionomr.

Simon Fraser University’s newest core facility will help British Columbia and Canada become world leaders in the production of clean hydrogen products and technology, reduce carbon emissions and create local and national of hydrogen-sector jobs.

Located on the Burnaby campus, the SFU Clean Hydrogen Hub is a Canadian academic-industry clean energy infrastructure project meant to accelerate hydrogen technology innovation.

Hydrogen gas can be created cleanly from water via electrolysis and can be used as an alternative energy carrier or as an intermediary to create other products, such as clean methanol. And unlike fossil fuel energy, which releases CO2 into the atmosphere, the byproducts of electrolysis are water and oxygen, meaning that the use of hydrogen from sustainable sources can help dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

The Honourable Terry Beech, Minister of Citizens’ Services and Member of Parliament for Burnaby North—Seymour, on behalf of the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan), announced more than $9.4 million in funding support at the Burnaby campus on Friday.

Additional partner investments of cash and in-kind support include $1.5 million each, from the B.C. Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE) and FortisBC; $1 million from the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (through their Innovative Clean Energy—ICE—Fund); and $1 million from the City of Burnaby. Support has also come from Canadian partner companies and organizations.

The Clean Hydrogen Hub will provide on-site hydrogen production and also serve as a testbed for perfecting and de-risking emerging hydrogen-energy technologies. The goal is to develop and scale-up hydrogen technologies and products with industry partners to decarbonize Canada and export around the world.

PacifiCan has also committed a further $425,000 investment to help SFU deliver its Lab2Market program through VentureLabs. This pilot offers a suite of programs for graduate students and researchers to develop their entrepreneurship skills and efficient commercialize their innovations. This is in addition to $3 million previously announced for VentureLabs in 2019.

“As a leading research university and trusted innovation partner, SFU is engaging in global challenges to make a difference for B.C. and Canada,” says SFU president Joy Johnson. “I am delighted that funding provided for the Clean Hydrogen Hub and VentureLabs will help us advance innovation in B.C. and meet local, provincial and national climate goals while developing the scientific and industry expertise needed to build a thriving Canadian hydrogen sector.”

“Projects like the Clean Hydrogen Hub position British Columbian innovators as leaders in the global hydrogen economy, which is projected to reach over $11 trillion by 2050,” says Minister Sajjan. “The Government of Canada’s support for home-grown innovation is driving economic growth for British Columbians today and building a cleaner, more prosperous future for generations to come.”

By 2028, the SFU Clean Hydrogen Hub is forecast to support $104 million in revenue growth and $92 million in export sales. The B.C. hydrogen sector has the potential to be a major contributor to the Canadian hydrogen market, which aims to create more than 350,000 jobs and generate over $50 billion in direct annual revenue by 2050. This work will also help to meet the goals of Canada’s Hydrogen Strategy, the B.C. Hydrogen Strategy and CleanBC.

“Burnaby is home to a robust ecosystem of innovative companies and academic institutions such as Simon Fraser University. This powerful combination of business and academia is creating a positive environment that is developing local solutions to global challenges and contributing to a strong economy in B.C.,” adds Minister Beech.

“The SFU Clean Hydrogen Hub represents community-centred climate innovation in action,” says Dugan O’Neil, vice-president research and innovation. “We are thrilled to partner with industry leaders and all three levels of government to develop the clean energy technologies that Canada and the world needs. The social and environmental impacts of a thriving Canadian hydrogen economy have the potential to be transformational.”

Hydrogen research and innovation at SFU

Led by SFU chemistry professor Steven Holdcroft, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in electrochemical materials and co-founder of Ionomr Innovations, the SFU Clean Hydrogen Hub will help B.C. and Canada meet their greenhouse gas reduction targets and fuel a cleaner energy future. It will build on groundbreaking work taking place within SFU’s Faculty of Applied Sciences and School of Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE). For example:

What our founding partners are saying:

“Producing clean fuels like hydrogen right here in B.C. to replace fossil fuels helps to reduce harmful pollution while creating new jobs and opportunities in the clean economy. By supporting innovative projects like the SFU Clean Hydrogen Hub, we can ensure that B.C. remains a world leader and attracts new investment in the growing clean economy.”

- The Honourable Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation and Member of the Legislative Assembly for Mid Island – Pacific Rim

 “The City of Burnaby is committed to exploring solutions that will enhance our community’s ability to mitigate the effects of climate change and advance research for the benefit of communities across B.C. and beyond. To meet our ambitious climate targets, we need to work together with our community partners and colleagues at SFU and I’m excited about the possibilities this project will open in the future.”

- Mayor Mike Hurley. City of Burnaby

“The SFU Clean Hydrogen Hub demonstrates how strong collaborations are positioning B.C. as a global leader in clean hydrogen technology. This initiative is key to unlocking low-cost, clean hydrogen and de-risking the scale-up of hydrogen technologies. CICE is proud to drive low-carbon hydrogen solutions and lead early-stage investments to overcome traditional funding barriers.”

 - Sarah Goodman, President and CEO, B.C. Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE)

“FortisBC is committed to providing innovative energy solutions that meet our customers’ needs while also lowering overall emissions. Through this initiative with SFU, we seek to discover how hydrogen can be best used as an energy source for our customers and how we can safely deliver it through our established gas infrastructure.”

- Roger Dall'Antonia, President and Chief Executive Officer, FortisBC

“The SFU Clean Hydrogen Hub provides an exciting opportunity to showcase the R&D and industry innovation that is underway in B.C. We have remarkable talent and a network of truly innovative companies in this province. Building on this ecosystem supports the larger goal of establishing hydrogen as a critical pillar of a zero-carbon world.”

- Ben Britton, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Ionomr Innovations.