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Project overview
  • Lead Organisation

    Macquarie University


    New South Wales

    ARENA Program

    Advancing Renewables Program

  • Start date

    1 August 2018

    End date

    30 April 2023

  • Project Partners
    Bioplatforms Australia, BOC Australia
    This hydrogen project was completed on 28 January 2023.


The Biological Hydrogen Production project will produce a bacteria that can efficiently and rapidly convert sugars from various renewable sources into hydrogen gas.

Key results

  • Successfully optimised a strain of bacteria to utilise simple sugars derived from biomass to produce hydrogen
  • Achieved high rates (~10 fold higher than target production rate) and high yields of hydrogen production from glucose (>20%)
  • Developed methods for the accurate measurement and control of hydrogen production from the engineered strain of bacteria
  • Demonstrated the process and application by powering a small device directly from a small fuel cell powered by the hydrogen (with no storage)
  • The bioengineered hydrogen producing strain provides an alternative for low carbon hydrogen production that does not rely on significant electricity infrastructure or storage requirements. The technology to produce hydrogen can be developed in a modular fashion at the site of availability of the waste biomass feedstocks.

How the project works

The Biological Hydrogen Production project led by Macquarie University will produce a bacterial strain that is optimised for converting glucose and other carbohydrates to hydrogen gas. The bacterial strains will also be optimised to produce the gas rapidly such that both rates and yields of hydrogen production are commercially viable. To move towards commercial scale the project will also develop a 2 L scale culture system that can produce and collect hydrogen gas in a safe and effective way.

Area of innovation

Hydrogen is an energy carrier as it is energy dense on a weight basis and produces zero emissions in hydrogen fuel cells. Thus production of hydrogen from a renewable carbohydrate is attractive as it is both carbon neutral and the carbohydrate may act as an efficient and safe storage mechanism if rates of hydrogen production from the carbohydrate are high enough.


Hydrogen gas is a clean and efficient energy carrier that can be used as a fuel to produce electricity in hydrogen fuel cells as well as other energy applications. This project aims to provide a system for the cost effective and relatively rapid production of hydrogen from carbohydrate sources. This is a sustainable system of hydrogen production with no net impact on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Last updated 24 March 2023


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