Australia’s University of Queensland and the University of South Carolina (USC) plan to work together to accelerate the development of hydrogen as a clean-fuel alternative to crude oil.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie says an agreement between the two institutions will promote collaboration on research projects and business development, as well as faculty and student exchanges.

“The effect of global warming makes it imperative that we accelerate the development of viable green-fuel alternatives,” Beattie says. “Hydrogen has great potential as a clean-energy carrier to replace hydrocarbons at a time when the world is desperately seeking alternative energy sources.”

Beattie says the development of hydrogen as an energy source is one of several opportunities – along with clean coal technologies and biofuels, such as ethanol – that will enable Queensland to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions as part of its response to climate change.

USC has significant expertise in hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies and is home to the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Fuel Cells. It also plays a leadership role in the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance.

The 2008 World Hydrogen Energy Conference will be held in Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city, next June, while the U.S. National Hydrogen Assn.’s annual conference will be held in Columbia, SC, in spring 2009.