Swinburne University of Technology: Comic tackles climate change through hydrogen education

When third year Bachelor of Games and Interactivity/ Bachelor of Animation student Stephanie Hartono began her internship at Design Factory Melbourne (DFM) working on Swinburne’s Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2), she didn’t know much about hydrogen.

“It was a bit intimidating and a little challenging at first, considering I lacked knowledge about it,” she says.

“Hydrogen is a chemical element that cannot be seen by eyes, so I had to find a way to creatively represent it in an engaging manner.”

Having finished her professional placement three months later, she has “visualised hydrogen” through an engaging comic, helping to raise awareness about how this green energy technology could shape the future.

‘When the water splits’ tells the story of how hydrogen can help tackle the increasing threat of climate change. Hydrogen is a renewable energy source that reduces the associated carbon emissions to potentially zero.

In the comic, the narrator explains the process of electrolysis. In order to create hydrogen, water is added to the electrolyser, which is split into hydrogen and oxygen. While the oxygen is released into the atmosphere, the hydrogen is stored, transported and used in various way.

Visualising the future
Research Fellow in the Social Impacts of Hydrogen Technology at VH2, Dr Kim Beasy, says that her research highlights that the community, and particularly young people, “just don’t really know what hydrogen is all about”.

“Creating materials to clearly and concisely show what hydrogen is and how it works is really important. Hydrogen will be a part of Australia’s efforts to decarbonise and we need a community that understands and supports this,” she says.

“It’s great to see such engaging and easy to understand materials helping young people to understand the hydrogen future that they will inherit.”

The DFM team, who specialise in the early stages of innovation and exploration, worked with Stephanie to understand how to visualise and target different audiences to share visual information on hydrogen.

VH2 Community Facilitator, Amelia Iverson, says DFM saw the importance of iterating and testing different visual identities in targeted demographics.

“We really wanted to use a cross-disciplinary approach in this project and harness Stephanie’s skills and capabilities in visual arts and animation to translate the complex material on hydrogen technology. She absolutely rose to the occasion.”

Stephanie says the internship got her out of her “comfort zone” and allowed her to grow professionally, whilst creating something meaningful that can help the environment.

“I tried to make the graphic narrative able to visualize hydrogen in a simpler way while still being straightforward and clear in its delivery. I hope it can help those who view it to be more aware of hydrogen and be kind towards our planet.”

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