Solar Thermochemical Hydrogen Research and Development

September 22nd, 2020

Solar Thermochemical Hydrogen Research and Development

This research project would thermally split water to produce hydrogen using concentrated solar energy at 1,300 °C, utilising a newly developed catalyst to perform the splitting reaction in a two-step chemical process, enabling hydrogen and oxygen to be produced separately.

Lead participants:

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)


Research and development



In progress

Estimated cost:

AUD$4.04 million

Research partners:

Niigata University (Japan), Japan Institute of Applied Energy

Main supply chain category:

Hydrogen production


New South Wales, Australia

Announced funding:

AUD$2.0 million – Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

Research description

This research project seeks to demonstrate an innovative solar thermal beam down system for the production of hydrogen using renewable sources of energy.

The research builds on more than 20 years of work at CSIRO on large-scale solar thermal concentration technology; in this research project, a secondary concentrator would be implemented to reflect and focus the solar rays to a fluidised bed on the ground (concentrating solar energy from a heliostat field in order to heat a fluidised bed to 1,300 °C). Water added to this fluidised bed would split into hydrogen and oxygen using a two-step chemical process.

Additional research would examine the conversion of the produced hydrogen into methanol that can be used as a hydrogen carrier to export markets.

The fluidised bed for this research is being developed with Niigata University from Japan.  Quantifying the feasibility of a supply chain for the solar hydrogen to be exported would be undertaken by the Japan Institute of Applied Energy.

More details on the research, including contact information, can be found at the ARENA webpage for this project.

This research project was part of a suite of projects for which ARENA announced AUD$22.1 million of funding in September 2018.


This description was reviewed by the lead research participant in August 2020.