Geelong Company Leads the Way with Renewable Hydrogen Cremation for Sustainable Death


Hydrogen flame

The Australian Government has set an ambitious carbon reduction target to 43% by 2030 and nett zero by 2050. It is important to note that we have only 90 months to achieve the 43% target. Of course, other organisations are aiming for an even greater reduction.

The takeaway is that we need to start running now and running fast to achieve these targets.

All ACCA members will come under pressure from markets, stakeholders, boards/trusts, shareholders, legislators and politicians to act. I understand that many in the ACCA “ family” are already feeling that pressure.

The good news is that there is a lot of measures that can be implemented reasonable quickly and easily to achieve significant reductions i.e. there is plenty of “low hanging fruit” in this space.

The ACCA members that operate crematoria will discover that carbon emission contribution from their gas fired cremators is a significant percentage of their total carbon footprint.

The use of hydrogen is being widely touted as replacement for natural gas and LPG and a key component of the “renewable energy revolution “ In recognition of this governments and corporates are investing in developing hydrogen supply chains and usage options.

Substitution of natural gas or LPG with hydrogen to fuel cremators is one such usage option that could significantly reduce the greenhouse foot print at crematoria.

To that end point Austeng are setting up a demonstration site at their premises in Geelong to showcase the use of hydrogen in an identical burner to that used in our cremators. The aim is to de-mystify the use of the technology and show how it can be implemented in crematoria.

Austeng will be running demonstration sessions where we will show the hydrogen equipment and burner in action while providing an overview as well as answering any questions. These demonstration sessions are planned for October and beyond. They will be open to anyone interested.

Our project is multi-faceted and importantly we are working closely with the Government regulator to ensure that a commercial roll out will meet with their approval.

Austeng has been greatly assisted by a State Government grant to investigate the feasibility of modifying or replacing crematoria furnaces, traditionally powered by gas, with hydrogen-powered alternatives. The Geelong Cemeteries Trust is a supporting partner in the project.

Specifically, the grant is through the Victorian State Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Business Ready Fund which is helping businesses take the first steps to transition to clean energy as part of the government’s broader blueprint for growing a renewable hydrogen economy over the next five years.
The project Involves undertaking a feasibility study , creating a prototype demonstration tool and then rolling out a knowledge sharing program targeting industry, community and other stakeholders.

The project is aiming to showcase how a cremation furnace can be powered by a blend of hydrogen and gas to facilitate a transition to using clean, renewable hydrogen.

We have already seen great interest in the cemetery and crematoria industry and beyond in using hydrogen to support Australian’s climate change ambitions and its next-zero emissions target by 2050.
By way of background, over 70% of Australians who pass away chose to be cremated – a process that consumes over 35kg (285 kilowatt hours) of natural gas or LPG, reaching a temperature of ≈1,000 degrees Celsius for 90 minutes.

The total equivalent carbon cost/person cremated is ≈400kg CO2e-, equating to ≈47.4 million kg CO2e- being released annually.

The potential is enormous. This project is specifically for the death care industry but the developments we make will be applicable to many other gas-fired industrial appliances.

Being able to use an existing furnace so it could operate with a blend of hydrogen and gas addresses the challenge of balancing supply and demand during the transition to renewable energy. It will create a demand for renewable hydrogen but if there is a supply gap in the initial stages the users won’t face any business interruption because they can still keep running on gas.

Former Geelong Cemeteries Trust CEO Darryl Thomas commented at the time of the award of the grant;- “This project is a terrific example of collaboration between Geelong organisations toward a common goal to improve environmental goals for the crematoria industry and beyond. It is also gratifying that the sector is able to take a leadership role in this context with a number of other crematoria associations both in Victoria and interstate as well as ACCA providing letters of support “ The ultimate aim of the project is to enable “greener cremations” i.e. a 100% green hydrogen fired cremator.

Any queries please email Ross George at [email protected] or call on (03) 5278 2044.

Austeng is an innovative engineering company and ACCA corporate member that has been providing products and engineering services to the cemetery and crematoria sector for more than 30 years. It is based in Nth Geelong, Victoria