Techno-economic and viability Assessments of Natural Hydrogen

October 11th, 2023

R&D Focus Areas:
Natural hydrogen, Techno-economic evaluation

Lead Organisation:

Not Applicable


Start date:
June 2023

Completion date:
March 2024

Key contacts:
Dr Tara Hosseini (Project Leader) – CSIRO Energy BU (
Dr Mutah Musa – CSIRO Energy BU (
Dr Emanuelle Frery – CSIRO Energy BU (
Dr Regina Sander – CSIRO Energy BU (

AUD$113,000 – CSIRO (Hydrogen Energy System Future Science Program – H2ES-FSP)

Project total cost:
AUD$202,000 – Combined cash and in-kind contributions (H2ES-FSP and Energy BU)

Project summary description:
The discovery of a large accumulation of naturally occurring hydrogen in Mali has triggered the search for hydrogen accumulations in other countries. Various researchers reported seepage of hydrogen-rich gas in different locations including Russia, the United States, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Oman, China and many other countries. Most of the above hydrogen discoveries share two distinct similar conditions which include:

  • Association with circular to sub-circular depressions
  • Located in areas with iron-rich, metamorphic, and igneous Precambrian basement rocks where Fe2+ oxidation and reduction of H2O may occur.

In Australia, specifically in Western Australia, those two conditions exist. Numerous circular surface features, commonly called salt lakes or swaps, are visible from the sky but there are limited studies that quantify any hydrogen content in those features.

Natural hydrogen is typically accompanied by other gas components, including methane (natural gas), nitrogen, helium and others. This implies post-processing may be required to treat hydrogen to specification while extracting other gases of value. Another important aspect to consider is the size of the resources and also if the hydrogen production from those sources is continuous or depleting upon the extraction.

The natural hydrogen system is still poorly understood. The development of a better understanding of native hydrogen systems involves a proper techno-economic assessment to address some of the challenges related to cost competitiveness, project viability, future cost projections and cost-reduction potential. This enables the evaluation of this technology against other hydrogen production technologies.

The current proposed project aims to provide a better understanding of the cost-competitiveness of this process in comparison to other hydrogen production technologies and also to assess this technology from technical and economical points of view. The objectives of the project are:

  • Provide an understanding of the components and their costs for natural hydrogen extraction.
  • Compare the levelized costs of natural hydrogen to other hydrogen generation processes, considering both scale and product purity.
  • Estimate the parameters of potentially commercially feasible resources.

The key deliverables will be:

A Class 5 techno-economic analysis model for different scenarios (for various hydrogen end-users, scales, location/availability and availability of other valuable by-products etc) and comment on the feasibility of the process (base case) and under what conditions the process could be feasible.

Related publications and key links:
Not applicable

Higher degree studies supported:
Not applicable


October 2023