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What is it?

Hydrogen physisorption involves hydrogen physically adsorbing to either the surface of a molecule or within pores. Metal organic frameworks are composed of inorganic metal clusters and organic linkers that act as highly selective networks of pores and channels providing a high surface area. Physisorption is driven by forces acting between the hydrogen molecules and the surface of the adsorbent material.

Why is it important?

Physisorption presents a lightweight, safe and fully reversible route for storage and transport of hydrogen.


  • Volumetric hydrogen density: ~40-50kg m3 demonstrated
  • Gravimetric hydrogen density: varies widely, ~2-20% by weight demonstrated
  • Storage conditions: Low temperatures (~-196°C)


  • Lightweight materials
  • Release of hydrogen is endothermic, negating risk of ignition
  • Hydrogen can be adsorbed and released quickly
  • Fully reversible process


  • Requires low temperature or high pressure
  • Weak interaction with H2 limits applicability

RD&D priorities

  • Demonstrate tank prototypes that can operate at reduced by not cryogenic conditions
  • Enhance the binding energy between the H2 molecules and adsorbents to increase hydrogen uptake
  • Investigate the effects of dopants, catalysts, and substitution to improve hydrogen uptake

Known active organisations

  • The Australian National University
  • Curtin University
  • Griffith University
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • The University of Adelaide
  • The University of Queensland
  • The University of Technology Sydney
  • The University of Western Australia

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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