CSIRO startup pursues hydrogen tech for heavy industry


The CSIRO and Sydney-headquartered RFC Ambrian have co-founded Hadean Energy to advance the development of the CSIRO’s tubular solid oxide electrolysis (SOE) technology which it said promises to significantly reduce hydrogen production costs and in doing so help to decarbonise heavy industry.

The International Energy Agency estimates demand for hydrogen will increase 138% by 2030, but high production costs and energy inputs are key challenges for producing green hydrogen.

The CSIRO said its SOE technology, which relies on ceramic tubes with electrodes on the inside and out, produces hydrogen by electrolysing water using a combination of heat and electricity. The agency said SOE requires less than 42 kWh of electricity to produce a kilogram of hydrogen while alkaline and polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) alternatives require about 60 kWh/kg of hydrogen.

Sarb Giddey, lead scientist on hydrogen research at CSIRO, said the technology has the potential to produce hydrogen at a higher efficiency and lower cost, allowing industry to dramatically reduce emissions.

“It allows industrial waste heat to be integrated back into the industrial processes, which decreases the electrical energy required to produce hydrogen or syn-gas by up to 30%,” he said.

“It’s great news for industry, because integrating the hydrogen product back into industrial processes onsite also eliminates storage and transport costs while drastically reducing the use of fossil fuels in the industrial process.”

CSIRO scientists Gurpreet Kaur and Sarb Giddey.

Image: CSIRO

CSIRO said it will now establish a pilot scale demonstration plant at BlueScope’s Port Kembla Steelworks on the New South Wales south coast to trial the technology in an industrial environment.

RFC Ambrian Chief Investment Officer Stefan Skorut said the technology is well placed to address the existing industrial hydrogen market which is currently almost 100% derived from fossil fuels.

“While SOE is the most efficient method of electrolysis, green hydrogen and synthetic fuels will remain uneconomic unless we address the scalability and cost of electrolysers,” he said.

“CSIRO’s tubular SOE technology represents a step change improvement across these metrics.”

The trial with BlueScope will commence in April 2024. The CSIRO said findings from the trial will help to demonstrate the technology at a higher scale and confirm the technical robustness of the equipment. Hadean Energy will have exclusive rights over the SOE technology.

This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: editors@pv-magazine.com.