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What is it?

An electric current is supplied to isolated nitrogenase enzymes, which reduce nitrogen gas and water to form ammonia, whilst also producing hydrogen.

Why is it important?

Haber-Bosch synthesis is a well-established industrial process that has been optimised for hydrogen production.


  • Volumetric hydrogen density: High (10.7kg H2 / m3 at 10 bar and 25°C)
  • Gravimetric hydrogen density: High (17.8% by mass)
  • Storage conditions: Liquid at ambient temperature, 10-11 bar pressure
  • Synthesis energy efficiency: Production of hydrogen via SMR paired with Haber-Bosch synthesis has an overall energy efficiency of approximately 61-66%


  • Established industrial process


  • High operating temperature and pressures, highly energy-intensive
  • Generates large amounts of carbon dioxide
  • Diminishing returns expected from improvements to this synthesis method

RD&D priorities

  • Improve catalyst development
  • Integrate with renewable sources of hydrogen

Known active organisations

  • The Australian National University
  • The University of New South Wales
  • The University of Western Australia

Other opportunities like this

  • Hydrogen is reacted with toluene to form methylcyclohexane (MCH), a compound that can be transported at ambient temperature and pressure.

  • Methanol is conventionally synthesised at large scale from synthesis gas (or syngas), a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide typically at an H₂/CO ratio of 1.8 ~ 2.2, derived through steam reforming of natural gas or steam gasification of coal.

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