The future of fuel is sustainable.
At least, Maria Tynan and Harry Bottero will be working to ensure that is the case.
The Riverina year 10 students, who attend Wagga's Aurora College of virtual advanced sciences, recent research into sustainable fuels landed them a position in ANSTO's Big Ideas forum.
Only 18 students from nine schools were chosen from up to 120 applicants around the country.
The idea that impressed their scientific peers greatly enough to promote their involvement with the forum had to do with splitting hydrogen to its atomic core for use as machinery fuel.
"We looked into a way of using hydrogen for energy, so through electrolysis, we'd split water into hydrogen and oxygen," Maria said.
"Captured with solar power, you can use the hydrogen as fuel and store the oxygen.
"It's something that hasn't been completely developed yet, but we spoke to some scientists [at the forum] and they were saying it would be mainstream for cars and infrastructure industries in the next few years."
The idea to pursue that area of science came from a previous study Maria had conducted at her school, and her growing passion to influence change.
"Sustainability is something we really need to think about in the future," she said.
"Not just because of climate change though, we're going to run out of unsustainable products eventually so we need to develop new ways of doing things now."
While Maria lives in Leeton, her partner in scientific exploration, Harry lives in Tumut.
Spanning the almost 250km distance between them proved a unique challenge in preparing for the forum. One that was not confronted by most of the other participants in the forum.
"There were a few from Melbourne that we met, but we were the only virtual college," said Harry.
"It is a bit different because I'm in Tumut, Maria is in Leeton and our teacher is in West Wyalong."
Given the distance, the pair were not expecting to be given the opportunity to attend the forum at all.
"It seemed awfully unlikely that we would get chosen, so it was definitely a good surprise," Harry said.
In the minority in terms of their locality, Maria also experienced being among the few female students who were involved in the experience.
"I've always been into the science side of things, I've always seen myself as capable there," she said.
"Starting from next year, there are [fewer] female students in my classes, but hopefully that will change, as women start to see that they can do this."
Both students are looking to pursue careers in the sciences. Harry is interested in physics, while Maria is currently exploring "everything from astrophysics to medical".
Further inquiry into hydrogen fuel cells may not be a consideration in their respective futures, but both Harry and Maria are certain their experience in Lucas Heights will translate to a lot of opportunities.
"It was truly great fun. Getting to meet experts in the field and ask them question, they can just eplain it all to you so well," said Harry.
"I'm honoured to have had the opportunity to do such a thing, it was awesome."