Green Hydrogen Production

Sustainably realising the production of green hydrogen

Hydrogen (H2) can be produced through numerous pathways, with 'grey' and 'blue' being the most common. Green hydrogen is produced through water electrolysis, specifically where the electricity used in the process comes from renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, or hydropower. 

The production of green H2 results in zero greenhouse gas emissions, making it an environmentally friendly fuel source. Grey hydrogen, the most common type today, is produced from natural gas, emitting carbon dioxide in the process, contributing to greenhouse gases. Blue hydrogen, while cleaner, is made similarly but includes a step to capture and store some of the carbon dioxide.

Thus, green hydrogen stands out as the cleanest version of hydrogen production because it relies on renewable energy sources and does not emit greenhouse gases. Its development is a key component for achieving a sustainable and renewable energy future.
Key focus areas of the UQ Dow Centre include:

  • Sustainable production of green hydrogen from wastewater.
  • Co-production of hydrogen, hydrogen peroxide, and ozone from water/wastewater.
  • Impurities mapping and their effects on the production of hydrogen and other chemicals from water/wastewater.
  • Design of tough and selective membranes for the co-production of hydrogen and other chemicals from water.
     

Selected ongoing projects

  • Sustainable Hydrogen Production from Used Water (2022–2025)
    The project aims to address the pressing challenge of water scarcity in hydrogen production by developing an innovative approach of using used water as the feed for water electrolysis. The project will result in an in-depth understanding of the impacts of water impurities in used water on the performance and durability of water electrolysers, and develop guidelines for the design of highly durable water electrolysers and the operation and upgrade of existing wastewater treatment plants. The project will advance the practical applications of water electrolysis for scalable and sustainable hydrogen production and help Australia secure a leading position in the global emerging hydrogen economy.
     
  • Single Atom Electrocatalyst of Iridium Oxide for Low-cost Green Hydrogen Production (2023)
    Green hydrogen produced via water electrolysis has been technically feasible but at a relatively high cost, which is the major barrier to its large-scale application. This project aims to reduce the electrocatalyst cost by applying a single atomic electrocatalyst design of the Iridium-based materials for effective water oxidation in acid solution. Iridium oxide is the most effective electrocatalyst for water oxidation in acid and has been applied in commercial electrolyser. But the scarcity and high price of iridium largely limit the wide application of this excellent electrocatalyst. This project will produce single atomic electrocatalyst with ultra-low loading amount of Iridium oxide via a molten salt assisted synthesis method. Meanwhile, defect engineering will be processed to accelerate the water oxidation and improve the conductivity of the electrocatalysts. Furthermore, the techno-economic analysis will be evaluated to demonstrate the advantage of single atomic Iridium oxide over the traditional particles.
     
  • Epitaxial Stacking of Nanoporous Nanosheets for Next-generation Membranes (2022–2026)
    The project aims to develop high-precision selective membranes which are urgently needed in Australian key industries for solute-solute separation by constructing vertically-aligned and chemically-tailorable nanochannels using two-dimensional porous nanosheets as building blocks. The project expects to generate advanced knowledge in the areas of nanosheet synthesis and functionalisation, membrane design and fabrication, selective transport of solutes and applications. The membranes developed in the project should make existing separation processes more effective and sustainable and advance emerging applications in pharmaceutical, dairy and mining industries, providing significant economic and environmental benefits to Australia.
     
  • Bioinspired Photocatalysts for Solar-Driven Hydrogen Peroxide Production (2022–2025)
    This project aims to develop advanced photocatalysts that can efficiently produce hydrogen peroxide from just water, air, and sunlight. By mimicking the structure and function of the natural photosynthetic apparatus, the key innovations are expected in the design of reaction-oriented conjugated polymer-based photocatalysts at the atomic and molecular nanostructure levels. It expects to generate new knowledge in artificial photosynthesis and rational design of functional materials, and sustainable technology for hydrogen peroxide production. This cross disciplinary research will benefit Australia by the development of biomimetic catalysts for advancing solar energy conversion and enabling sustainable manufacturing of commodity chemicals.
     
  • Carbon Molecular Sieve Membranes for Organic Solvent Separation (2023–2026)
    Directly addressing the pressing challenge of organic solvent separation faced by numerous industries, the project aims to develop molecular sieve membranes with outstanding selectivity and solvent tolerance by constructing zeolite-carbon mixed matrix membrane via incorporating zeolite nanosheets into carbon materials. The project expects to generate advanced knowledge of nanosheet synthesis, membrane fabrication and selective molecule transport. The membranes developed in the project have great potential for improving the production capacity and sustainability of Australian industries, e.g., pharmaceutical manufacturing, bioethanol production and petroleum refining, providing significant economic and environmental benefits to Australia.

Partners

  • Water Research Australia Limited
  • Graphenex Pty Ltd
  • Monash University
  • Melbourne Water
  • Urban Utilities QLD
  • Yarra Valley Water
  • Water Corporation WA