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Project overview
  • Lead Organisation

    Australian National University


    Australian Capital Territory

    ARENA Program

    Hydrogen Research and Development Funding Round

  • Start date

    31 March 2024

    End date

    28 February 2029

  • Project Partners
    Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (Fraunhofer IFAM), CQSola Pty Ltd (CQSola), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Fabrum Solutions Limited


The project aims to create a pathway to lower the cost of green hydrogen through the development and commercialisation of the direct solar-to-hydrogen technology.


This project was selected as part of the competitive Hydrogen R&D Funding Round under the Transformative Research Accelerating Commercialisation (TRAC) Program to rapidly develop the critical technologies required to build a clean, innovative, safe, and competitive hydrogen industry and position Australia as a major player globally. While hydrogen technologies and targets have continued to evolve, R&D investment remains a critical imperative to commercialise clean hydrogen. Projects supported by the Hydrogen R&D Funding Round seek to progress the commercialisation of low cost, clean hydrogen in Australia.

Current renewable hydrogen production approaches using electrolysers encounter multiple energy conversion efficiency losses, culminating in hindered performance and high production costs, limiting green hydrogen’s broad adoption. The Australian National University has developed a laboratory-based direct solar-to-hydrogen (DSTH) system to combat this by combining solar cells and catalytic electrodes in a single module.

This project will allow this DSTH technology to be further developed and evaluated for commercial feasibility.


The Australian National University aims to advance its direct solar-to-hydrogen (DSTH) technology from a successful laboratory-scale model to a viable commercial product. The project will focus on the optimisation and upscaling of DSTH modules, and conceptual and engineering design for a pilot hydrogen production plant, as well as a module manufacturing line.

The project will be delivered in two stages:

  1. The core research stage, including:
    • electrode and stack development including catalyst/stack optimisation and upscaling
    • module development including assembly and testing of prototype modules, thermal integration, and overall engineering design, and
    • system development including balance of system evaluation, feasibility study, conceptual design, and engineering design for a pilot plant.
  2. The commercialisation stage, including:
    • commercial viability assessment including a commercialisation roadmap, market assessment, risk analysis and technoeconomic analysis, and
    • manufacturing line development including supply chain evaluation, feasibility study, and conceptual design of a DTSH module manufacturing plant.


The project seeks to achieve the following Outcomes:

  1. accelerated commercialisation of renewable hydrogen through innovative R&D in hydrogen production technologies
  2. increased skills, capacity and knowledge relevant to the hydrogen production technologies in the Australian hydrogen sector, and the facilitation of collaboration between research groups and industry
  3. improvement in the technology readiness and commercial readiness of hydrogen production technologies
  4. development of electrolysis systems which directly couple solar energy generation, potentially reducing energy conversion losses;
  5. a simplified direct solar-to-hydrogen technology (DSTH) module design using earth-abundant materials and integration with balance of system, potentially leading to a reduction in the levelised cost of hydrogen
  6. design of a large-scale DSTH process and feasibility studies into pilot scale operation of similar plants, and
  7. technoeconomic analysis and a pathway to manufacturing and commercialising DSTH modules to reduce the cost of hydrogen production.
Last updated
10 April 2024
Last updated 10 April 2024
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