Solar Thermochemical Hydrogen Research and Development

June 8th, 2022

R&D Focus Areas:
Thermal water splitting, Synthetic fuels and chemicals, Techno-economic evaluation

Lead Organisation:

Niigata University (Japan), The Institute of Applied Energy (IAE, Japan))


Start date:
August 2018

Completion date:
March 2024

Key contacts:
Project Leader Jin-Soo Kim –

AUD$2,027,676 – ARENA

Project total cost:
AUD$4,700,239 – including cash and in-kind contributions

Project summary description:
The Solar Thermochemical Hydrogen Research and Development project will demonstrate Australia’s first solar thermal beam down system, concentrating solar energy from a heliostat field in order to heat a fluidised bed to 1300°C for reducing redox material. Water added to this bed will be split into hydrogen and oxygen by oxidisation of the reduced material, which completes a two-step chemical process for hydrogen production. Additional research will examine the conversion of the produced hydrogen into methanol that can be used as a hydrogen carrier to export markets such as Japan.

The project has three programs that cover different aspects of the technology, demonstration of the complete water splitting process under a new solar thermal beam down concept, development of new catalyst materials to improve performance and a techno-economic feasibility study of a methanol pathway for export of hydrogen.

  • Solar thermochemical hydrogen (CSIRO) – Demonstration of a working process for the two-step water splitting process using solar thermal input. The work program has two parallel streams of activity with work at CSIRO’s Newcastle site focused on converting the existing solar tower 1 to a beam down configuration and preparation of the field for hydrogen experiments.  Design of the fluidised bed reactor in being led by the University of Niigata, who have developed a preliminary design for a fluidised bed reactor and specifications for the first catalysts required to commission the equipment.
  • NextGen Materials (CSIRO) – Aiming to discover a novel set of perovskites performing solar thermochemical water splitting more efficiently than current state-of-art CeO2. This work is assisted by the creation of a novel machine-learning algorithm (Redox-Machine) for screening hundreds of thousands of perovskites metal oxides targeting the highest hydrogen production capability. This task is combined with demonstration of the perovskites in laboratory and reactor scale experiments.
  • Techno-economics of methanol supply chain (IAE) – Evaluation of the techno-economics of the process and as applied to a methanol-based transport cycle to enable utilisation in Japan. This part of the project is led by the Japanese Institute of Applied Energy.

Related publications and key links:

Perry, T. Jones, J. Coronado, S. Donne and A. Bayon, Thermodynamic Analysis of a Novel Two-Step High Temperature Thermo-Electrochemical Water Splitting. 2023 Energy 276 (2023) 127412.

Mike Collins, David Grillmeier, Daniel Potter, Wil Gardner, Calum Acutt, Michael Rae, and Johannes Pottas, Development of a secondary reflector for the CSIRO Beam-Down Receiver Test Platform, APSRC2022, Newcastle.

Jon Perry, Tim Jones, Juan Coronado, Scott Donne and Alicia Bayon, Thermodynamic Analysis of a Novel Two-Step High Temperature Thermo-Electrochemical Water Splitting Cycle, APSRC2022, Newcastle.

Julia Melisande Fischer, Jonathan Perry, Alicia Bayon and Amanda Barnard, Semi-supervised machine learning approach to select materials for solar thermal application, C3DIS2021.

Alicia Bayon, Alberto de la Calle, Krishna Kamol Ghose, Alister Page, Robbie McNaughton, Experimental, computational and thermodynamic studies in perovskites metal oxides for thermochemical fuel production: A review, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Volume 45, Issue 23, 2020, Pages 12653-12679.

Potter, Daniel; Hetherton, Lachlan; Thomas, David; McNaughton, Robbie; Watkins, Damien. An integrated optimisation functionality for Workspace. In: 23rd International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2019); 1-6 December 2019; Canberra.

M. Fischer, M. Hunter, M. Hankel, D. J. Searles, A. J. Parker, A. S. Barnard, Accurate prediction of binding energies for two-dimensional catalytic materials using machine learning, ChemCatChem 2020, 12, 5109.

Barnard, B. Motevalli, A. J. Parker, J. M. Fischer, C. A. Feigl and G. Opletal, Nanoinformatics, and the big challenges for the science of small things, Nanoscale, 2019,11, 19190-19201.

Higher degree studies supported:
This project supports a PhD studentship at CSIRO.


Reviewed: November 2023