Techno-economic evaluation of hydrogen energy systems

June 20th, 2022

R&D Focus Areas:
Whole supply chain, Electrolysis, ammonia

Lead Organisation:

RMIT University


Start date:
May 2019

Completion date:
December 2022

Key contacts:
Dr Nawshad Haque:

CSIRO Hydrogen Energy Systems Future Science Platform

Project total cost:

Project summary description:
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 a liquid ammonia (NH3) pathway. Renewable ammonia importing countries can decompose it back to pure hydrogen using CSIRO developed metal membrane technology (MMT).

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.

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 hydrogen 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 scenarios.
  • To analyse CSIRO NH3 cracking technology and the several processes that are included in the overall hydrogen energy system for selecting the optimum processes: seawater desalination, electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen, Haber-Bosch process to produce NH3, liquefaction of NH3 and transport.
  • To develop process simulation and economic evaluation models for the above processes.
  • To carry out economic and sensitivity analyses to determine the feasibility of the chosen hydrogen energy system
  • To develop process simulation and economic evaluation models for the chosen hydrogen energy system using Aspen Plus
  • Novelty of the project: Techno-economic analysis of an overall hydrogen energy system involving six processes, including CSIRO NH3 cracking technology that has not been studied yet.

Research questions include:

  • 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 electrolysers 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 AUD$2/kg?
  • How much renewable energy is required to produce a unit of hydrogen using desalination and electrolysis?

Related publications and key links:
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:

Higher degree studies supported:
One PhD student is supported by this technology


June 2022