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What is it?

Chemical hydrides, or chemical hydrogen, refers to hydrogen bonded to a compound in solid or liquid form. These compounds generally have high hydrogen densities. The hydrogen can be extracted via reaction with water or application of heat. Examples include Ammonia borane, sodium borohydride, and alane compounds.

Why is it important?

Chemical hydrides have high hydrogen densities and can be transported at ambient temperatures.


  • Volumetric hydrogen density: 90 to 120 kg/m3
  • Gravimetric hydrogen density: 7.5 to 25 wt.% H2
  • Storage conditions: Ambient
  • Extraction conditions - ~25-200°C if not hydrolysed. Hydrolysis allows release at ambient conditions
  • Roundtrip Energy efficiency: N/A – system is irreversible


  • Some chemical hydrides offer high volumetric hydrogen density, depending on system configuration
  • Typically lighter weight than metal hydrides
  • Can transport at ambient temperatures


  • Regeneration of the chemical required to be able to use it again for hydrogen storage. This considerably increases the well-to-powerplant fuel cost
  • Need to utilise or return carrier chemical if transported
  • Some liquids can solidify while hydrogen is not bonded, requiring further handling
  • Note: The TRL for 'on-off' utilisation of chemical hydrides that cannot be regenerated is 5-7

RD&D priorities

  • Improve overall ‘wells-to-power plant’ efficiency
  • Improve carrier chemical regeneration efficiency

Known active organisations

  • Curtin University
  • The University of New South Wales
  • The University of Sydney

Other opportunities like this

  • Ammonia is synthesised by reacting hydrogen with nitrogen gas at high temperatures and pressures.

  • 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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