Project 1 – Techno-economic evaluation of hydrogen energy systems

Why we are doing this?

Australia has an advantage of having very large amounts of solar- and wind-based renewable energy. It can be utilised for renewable hydrogen production via liquid ammonia (NH3) pathway. Renewable ammonia importing countries can decompose it back to pure hydrogen using CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) metal membrane technology. The membrane separates ultra-high pure hydrogen from ammonia, while blocking all other gases. Re-cracked hydrogen can be used for fuel cell vehicles and other energy applications. The assessment of the economic viability of the above-mentioned process-chain requires a techno-economic evaluation (TEE) that involves process simulation, mass and energy balances, plant sizing, capital and operating cost estimations, cash-flow and sensitivity analyses. This research presents the TEE for a hydrogen energy system and it can be used in assessing engineering, research and development impact, scale-up, and the feasibility of the production system.

What we are doing?


The overall aim of the project is to develop techno-economic tools based on spreadsheet and process simulation software (Aspen Plus) to determine the economic feasibility of an overall H2 energy system.

The specific objectives of the project include:

  • Determine the methodology for sizing and economic evaluation which would be suitable for both current and future scenario.
  • To analyse CSIRO NH3 cracking technology and the several processes that are included in the overall H2 energy system for selecting the optimum processes: seawater desalination, electrolysis of water to produce H2, Haber-Bosch process to produce NH3, Liquefaction of NH3 and transport.
  • To develop process simulation and economic evaluation models for the above processes using spreadsheet
  • To carry out economic and sensitivity analyses to determine the feasibility of the chosen H2 energy system
  • To develop process simulation and economic evaluation models for the chosen H2 energy system using Aspen Plus
Novelty of the project: Techno-economic analysis of an overall H2 energy system involving six processes including CSIRO NH3 cracking technology has not been studied yet.

Research questions:

  • How to scale up CSIRO membrane cracking technology and determine the economic feasibility of producing hydrogen from NH3 at larger scale?
  • How to scale up PEM electrolyser and determine the economic feasibility of producing hydrogen at larger scale?
  • What will be the economic reliability of the techno-economic model developed by combining all the six processes?
  • Can the techno-economic tools developed in this work be used in determining whether it is possible to produce renewable hydrogen for $2/kg?
  • How much renewable energy is required to produce a unit of hydrogen using desalination and electrolysis?


What we will do next?

Below is the table about completed, ongoing and future work.

Step No. Title of Activity Activity description Current status
1 Methodology development for order of magnitude estimate and study estimate Based on the cost data collected for each process, methodology for economic analysis will be framed. Completed and written as a book chapter.
2 Literature review for the proposed renewable hydrogen scenario Plant data and process data will be collected and will be modelled to check the feasibility of alteration on existing plants. Completed for 4 process and aiming to write a review paper.
3 Economic analysis using order of magnitude estimate in flowsheet Based on the cost data and literature review, evaluate the proposed system and calculate the cash flow. Done for Desalination, PEM electrolyser, NH3 production and NH3 cracking.
4 Detailed mass and energy balance for detailed process flow for all 6 processes using flowsheet simulation Based on database created from the above two steps, all the equipment, chemicals used, and process flow will be identified, and detailed mass and energy balance will be performed for the overall process. Started for NH3 cracking.
5 Equipment sizing of each process From the model developed from mass and energy balance generic design will be done and linked to the previous model so the size varies according to the user output requirements. Started for NH3 cracking
6 Economic and sensitivity analysis for overall process The detailed (study) estimate for economics will be performed based on the equipment sizing calculations and the overall cash flow will be analyzed which will conclude the feasibility of producing renewable hydrogen in Australia. Yet to be started
7 Aspen simulation After evaluating the proposed scenario, the detailed analysis will be simulated in ASPEN Yet to be started


We have currently completed the rough estimate for overall process and have started with detailed sizing, design and costing of scaled up NH3 cracking process developed by CSIRO.

Project 2 – Techno-economic and environmental evaluation of hydrogen energy systems

Why we are doing this?

Hydrogen is emerging as a key energy vector in the global pursuit towards a decarbonized energy supply. Australia is expected to play a pivotal role given its vast energy resources like natural gas, coal and renewable solar and wind energy that can be used to generate hydrogen. These opportunities have been recognized by the government, that has introduced a national hydrogen roadmap and strategy. However, there is an expectation that to unlock Australia’s hydrogen potential the cost of generating hydrogen would have to be reduced to A$2 kg-1for it to be competitive with conventional fossil fuels. This would require implementation of low costs, scalable and low carbon pathways to generate and utilize hydrogen.

Through this project we are developing technoeconomic frameworks to evaluate the viability of hydrogen supply chains in Australia. This includes identifying cost competitive and scalable ways of generating hydrogen, along with finding key opportunities for utilizing hydrogen to decarbonize Australia’s energy supply and industry. In addition, the project aims to deliver an environmental outlook of implementing these technologies, providing a deeper understanding on cost reduction potential while reducing the environmental footprint. Though there have been some high-level studies evaluating hydrogen generation in Australia, a robust and comprehensive framework for assessing the economic and environmental footprint of hydrogen generation/utilization in Australia is still lacking. The development of this framework would assist stakeholders in making more informed decision on investment opportunities for developing an Australian Hydrogen Supply Chain.

What are we doing?

CSIRO in partnerships with researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) are developing adaptable cost assessment frameworks to evaluate hydrogen production opportunities using commercial technologies like steam methane reforming, coal gasification and electrolysis. These frameworks will be optimized and used to evaluate opportunities to implement these technologies in different jurisdictions across Australia. These opportunities include both blue hydrogen generation using fossil fuels with subsequent carbon capture for storage and utilization, for an environmentally friendly alternative to utilize Australia’s coal and natural gas reserves.  As well as green hydrogen generation using electrolysis to leverage Australia’s vast solar and wind potential. To develop these tools, we are collaborating with various stakeholders like technology providers, Australian energy producers and policy makers.

What will we do next?

The outcome of project would be a to provide a comprehensive outlook of developing a scalable hydrogen supply chain in Australia. Moreover, the developed framework can then be used to evaluate business opportunities for utilizing the low carbon hydrogen to decarbonize Australia’s local industry and energy sector as well as drive a global hydrogen economy through export of Australian based hydrogen. In longer term, a successful implementation of hydrogen technology will establish Australia as a key global energy market.

Project 3: Evaluation of hydrogen application in heavy industries (e.g. steel making)

Why are we doing this?

Steel making is highly capital and material intensive contributing to significant greenhouse gas emission globally. Green hydrogen use in iron and steel making can potentially reduce this emission with green steel production.

This project will aid/fuel all the clean/green energy enthusiasts in the world and Australia in particular, which may be a significant contribution to the sustainable future.

What are we doing?

We will investigate hydrogen application and system level modelling of solar-thermal boosted fluidised bed iron-making. We will evaluate feasibility of carbon-free iron-making process using hydrogen from renewable energy sources and the efficiency of the technology. This research will investigate if the system is cost effective in comparison to the existing technologies. If this technology can be implemented globally or only in a few countries where a specific renewable energy is available considering Australian context (e.g. availability of solar radiations is variable in each country).

The expected outcomes from the research are: (1) A green steelmaking technology to reduce the carbon emissions into the world (2) Life cycle-based energy and carbon footprints will be reported using life cycle assessment software for the developed flowsheet. (4) At least two journal articles (probably from the experimental work and

What will we do next?

We are going to develop simulation models supported by experimental work to evaluate various scenarios and develop techno-economic and life cycle assessment tools for academic studies and industries in co-operation with Heavy Industries Low Carbon Transition (HITL) CRC (

For more information, please contact

Dr Nawshad Haque

Senior Scientist, Electrochemical Energy Systems

References of published papers:

  • MHA Khan, R Daiyan, P Neal, N Haque, I MacGill, R Amal (2021) A framework for assessing economics of blue hydrogen production from steam methane reforming using carbon capture storage & utilisation. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy DOI:
  • MHA Khan, R Daiyan, Z Han, M Hablutzel, N Haque, R Amal, I MacGill (2021) Designing Optimal Integrated Electricity Supply Configurations for Renewable Hydrogen Generation in Australia. iScience, 102539, DOI:
  • V Balasubramanian, Nawshad Haque, S Bhargava, S Madapusi, R Parthasarathy (2021) Techno-economic evaluation methodology for hydrogen energy systems. Bioenergy Resources and Technologies, 237-260. Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-822525-7.00016-0