Bio-Hydrogen Demonstration Plant (Archived)

November 21st, 2023

Bio-Hydrogen Demonstration Plant

This project seeks to install and operate a large pilot plant at an existing facility near Gladstone for the production of hydrogen from waste gases.

Main proponents:

Southern Oil Refining Pty Ltd

Main end-use classification:

Industrial process – refining


Archived – project is undergoing technical and engineering redesign

Estimated cost:

AUD$7.0 million

Other involvement:


Production details:

Hydrogen production – 20 kilograms per hour capacity planned for a large pilot plant


Queensland, Australia

Announced funding:

AUD$1.0 million – Queensland Government Biofutures Commercialisation Program

Project description

This project seeks to install and operate a large pilot plant for the production of hydrogen from waste gases.

Southern Oil Refining operates the Northern Oil Refinery at Yarwun, near Gladstone, Queensland, The facility was commissioned in 2014 and can re-refine over 100 million litres of waste lube oil (into base lube oil) per annum. The Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant, sited at the Northern Oil Refinery, was commissioned in 2017 and can use waste/biomass materials from multiple sources as feedstock for the production of bio-crude oil, which is then refined into saleable kerosene and diesel products.

The production of biofuels consumes considerable amounts of hydrogen. At present, the hydrogen is purchased and ‘imported’ onto site. Rather than buying hydrogen, Southern Oil Refining is investigating the application of steam-over-iron with chemical looping combustion (SOI-CLC) as a process for continual hydrogen production – using waste gas as feedstock.

Southern Oil has trialled at small-scale SOI and CLC systems (the latter in cooperation with CSIRO). It is moving towards building a large pilot plant of the combined SOI-CLC system utilising waste gas from the Biofuels Pilot Plant as the combustion source.

This (bio) hydrogen would be used into its refinery processes, with any excess used to generate electricity in a fuel cell to power the refinery.

The hydrogen power generation unit is expected to be sized between 200 kW and 400kW, subject to engineering study results.

It is reported that in October 2017, Southern Oil Company and UK-based AFC Energy, entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with the intention of collaborating in the assessment of opportunities for the integration of an AFC Energy fuel cell system into Southern Oil’s refinery processes. In mid-2018, Southern Oil Refining placed an order with AFC for a hydrogen power generation unit and AFC Energy undertook engineering studies to confirm system sizing, logistics, etc.

Latest reports indicate that the engineering study is complete though a final sales and lease agreement remains to be executed.

Media reports indicate the project cost at around AUD$7 million.

The project is undergoing technical and engineering redesign. The veracity of the redesign process is expected to be better understood around the middle of 2024 when the project would be considered for transfer to the Active listing.


June 2017: The Queensland Government announces the Gladstone-based Southern Oil facility would receive AUD$1 million to facilitate a demonstration bio-hydrogen generation unit.


Reviewed: November 2023