Dr Sukhvinder Badwal of CSIRO Energy Technology displays a hydrogen-powered micro fuel cell.

Dr Sukhvinder Badwal of CSIRO Energy Technology displays a hydrogen-powered micro fuel cell.

New technologies to advance the hydrogen economy

CSIRO plays a leading role in the development of sustainable energy options to address the global challenges faced by a carbon-constrained future.

  • 9 January 2008 | Updated 14 October 2011

Overview

CSIRO offers internationally recognised expertise in developing new technologies to advance the ‘hydrogen economy’. 

The hydrogen economy refers to technologies and an infrastructure system in which hydrogen is used as the major energy carrier to increase energy sustainability, reduce or eventually eliminate dependence on fossil fuels, and reduce or eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Hydrogen can be used in place of, or in combination with, conventional fuels.

The combustion of hydrogen generates no greenhouse gases (other than water), particulate matter, or other pollutants.

With growing concern over sustainability, cost and security of energy supply, there is an increasing emphasis worldwide to develop a range of technologies for hydrogen generation, storage, safety, transportation/distribution infrastructure and utilisation. 

Hydrogen technologies, and ultimately the hydrogen economy, offer a path to a sustainable energy future for Australia.

Many of the ongoing hydrogen research and development programs being undertaken by CSIRO are aligned with the Energy Transformed Flagship program.

Skills and experience

CSIRO has scientific capability and skills critical for progress towards the hydrogen economy.

These include:

  • hydrogen generation (fossil, renewable)
  • fuel cell technology
  • catalytic chemistry
  • fluid dynamics
  • heat and mass transfer
  • microtechnology
  • nanomaterials
  • light metals
  • sensors/safety systems
  • polymer chemistry
  • electrochemistry
  • solid state ionics
  • materials characterisation
  • systems development/modelling.

CSIRO has access to a range of equipment to perform the work including fabrication facilities and test stations for:

CSIRO offers internationally recognised expertise in developing new technologies to advance the ‘hydrogen economy’. 

  • fuel cells
  • micro fuel cells
  • hydrogen separation
  • hydrogen generation
  • electrochemical techniques
  • coating techniques
  • ceramic shaping/forming
  • gas analysis
  • materials characterisation.

Implementation

CSIRO’s Hydrogen Technologies program aims to develop and deploy science and engineering in materials, devices and tools to ensure that Australia has access to high efficiency and safe hydrogen production, distribution, storage and consumption technologies.

Examples of CSIRO research that is contributing to the realisation of the hydrogen economy include.

  • Gas cleaning and separation: CSIRO is developing low cost metal and ion transport membrane based gas cleaning/hydrogen separation technologies. These can be used with a coal gasifier or integrated with a natural gas or a liquid fuel reformer for distributed hydrogen generation at service stations, homes or other demand centres, for direct use in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. 

  • Hydrogen generation – PEM Electrolysis System: CSIRO is advanced in its production of a compact and all solid-state modular system for distributed hydrogen generation on-demand, a system integrated with a sustainable energy source and aimed at achieving high electrolysis efficiency. Development of high efficiency, low-cost water electrolysis technologies for hydrogen production will provide both interim and long-term solutions to meet future transport fuel demands.

  • National Solar Energy Centre (NSEC) and the use of solar energy in the reforming of natural gas and production of hydrogen: The NSEC will provide the physical and conceptual framework for the demonstration of SolarGas technology. The development and demonstration of a reactor at the NSEC will combine natural gas and solar energy to form SolarGas, and ultimately SolarH2. The solar-fossil hybrid technology demonstrated at the NSEC will assist in the transition from a fossil fuel to a renewable and ultimately hydrogen economy.

  • Hydrogen utilisation: CSIRO has developed expertise and comprehensive facilities for the fabrication, testing and evaluation of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC) up to several kilowatts in size.

Learn more about CSIRO’s work in Hydrogen Energy.