Informing water Industry opportunities in the emerging Hydrogen Economy: Technical feasibility, scalability, risk, and co-products

Informing water Industry opportunities in the emerging Hydrogen Economy: Technical feasibility, scalability, risk, and co-products

Hydrogen offers unique capabilities as a versatile low-emissions energy storage medium, fuel source, and feedstock for industrial processes.


Hydrogen economy participation contributes to Australia’s emerging circular economy and offers products which may serve as versatile low-GHG emission energy storage mechanisms, fuel sources, and feedstocks for industrial (including water industry) processes. Co-location of hydrogen production within, or adjacent to, water/wastewater treatment plants (WTPs/WWTPs) using a recycled wastewater (RWW) feedstock could provide opportunities for sustainable, water-efficient, and waste-consuming production of hydrogen as well as valuable co-products, potentially offering greater economic viability and value compared to standalone hydrogen production facilities. These potential hydrogen electrolysis co-products include oxygen, ozone, and hydrogen peroxide and may also be central to the technical and regulatory viability.

So, while water industry participation may offer considerable advantages to the industry itself and the communities it serves, several knowledge gaps remain. Key questions amongst Australian stakeholders relate to uncertainties around technical feasibility, scalability, viability, and risks associated with water industry hydrogen economy participation beyond the basic provision of water supply to hydrogen producers. A state-of-knowledge review is required to address these concerns within the context of urban and regional operations. Examination of case studies considering the outcomes of relevant trials by Australian and international research groups/utilities will provide significant value in determining our collective knowledge and where research questions remain.

The objective of this project are to:

  • Explore the technical feasibility and holistic viability of an RWW-based and hydrogen enabled circular economy within regional and urban WTP contexts through a review of hydrogen and related systems nationally and internationally, identifying key knowledge gaps. The review will also investigate the appropriate ‘colours’ of hydrogen given site-specific parameters. This will encompass the potential for greater water industry self-sufficiency and resilience, and GHG emissions reduction to be realised through hydrogen economy participation.

  • Explore key technical knowledge gaps and industry questions regarding hydrogen electrolysis co-product reuse within WWTP/WTP processes. Determine the value achievable through co-produced oxygen reuse within WWTP processes and the extent to which this can subsidise hydrogen production.

  • Determine the scalability of the technology and supply chains required to support a hydrogen enabled circular economy from pilot scale through to full-scale implementation in regional and metropolitan contexts.

  • Outline and assess risks associated with integration of hydrogen economy processes with water treatment processes, particularly with respect to water security in regions facing scarcity and the regulatory/environmental risks and benefits associated with oxygen co-production and reuse.

The deliverables of this project are:

  1. A technical report addressing the above objectives will be delivered through discussion with emerging and established entities in the Australian hydrogen space, reviews of relevant literature, and assessment of working examples within international case studies. A market analysis will consider projected demand for hydrogen and coproducts in Australia as well as cost-trends for requisite technology. A decision tree will be constructed to provide prospective hydrogen economy participants with guidance based on site-specific parameters including water quality, power production capabilities, and logistical considerations.    

  2. A factsheet summarising the key findings contained within the technical report will be developed including a roadmap for how opportunities can potentially be realised through addressing remaining knowledge gaps.

  3. Knowledge transfer webinars will be conducted to communicate the implications of key project deliverables to stakeholders. A workshop conducted during early project stages will ensure that the scope of the project fully aligns with and addresses stakeholder concerns.

WaterRA Contact

Dr Arash Zamyadi

Amount being sought

$80 - $100k

Due Date

30th Sep, 2022