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Project overview
  • Lead Organisation

    The University of Western Australia


    Western Australia

    ARENA Program

    Advancing Renewables Program

  • Start date

    1 August 2018

    End date

    6 December 2022

  • Project Partners
    Anergy Pty
    This hydrogen project was completed on 6 December 2022.


Methanol is an excellent hydrogen carrier. It can be easily manufactured from renewable resources, easily transported and stored in liquid form, and can be readily converted to hydrogen at the point of use or used directly as a clean and low-carbon transport fuel.

The UWA Methanol from Syngas Research & Development project, led by Prof. Dongke Zhang FTSE, Director, Centre for Energy at The University of Western Australia and Anergy Pty Ltd., seeks to develop an innovative and miniaturised process technology for synthesising renewable methanol from biomass pyrolysis syngas and demonstrate the technology in a laboratory-scale pilot plant for engineering evaluation and process economic studies. With the development of robust catalysts and innovative reactors and the demonstration of the technology, the science base and technological foundation will be established, facilitating movement towards technology commercialisation.

Key results

This project successfully built and commissioned a micro-tubular reactor for catalyst screening and reactor performance tests. The miniaturised methanol production as hydrogen carrier from biomass pyrolysis syngas is technically feasible and economically viable under the current demand-supply-cost combination but vulnerable to external and market conditions. A comprehensive handbook was developed which documents the fundamental knowledge of methanol catalystic synthesis, and a design toolkit for the development, design, construction and operation of the minituarised methanol synthesis plant.

How the project works

The UWA Methanol from Syngas Research & Development project is all about process innovation and miniaturisation. Firstly, highly active and robust catalysts suitable for small scale methanol synthesis will be designed, prepared and evaluated. Secondly, innovative micro-reactor configurations including multi-tubular reactor and structured catalytic monolith reactor will be constructed and evaluated. Thirdly, the chosen micro-reactor will be incorporated with biomass pyrolysis in a laboratory-scale pilot plant to demonstrate the feasibility, operability and flexibility of the technology. Finally, process design, simulation, and techno-economic analysis will be performed to establish the techno-enviro-economic performance assessment protocols, providing comprehensive analysis for commercialisation of the technology.

Area of innovation

The UWA Methanol from Syngas Research & Development project is about chemical engineering process innovation, development and practical application and will advance an innovative miniaturised process to convert biomass into methanol for export as a hydrogen carrier and a transport fuel. Integrating methanol synthesis with biomass pyrolysis will enable a small scale, distributed production of renewable methanol.


The proposed biomass pyrolysis to methanol process technology will result in significant tangible economic benefits from methanol sales. The renewable methanol produced from biomass, when used as a fuel and hydrogen carrier, or Australia’s liquid sunlight, can be exported globally to where cleaner energy is needed to help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The widespread deployment of this technology will also help significantly boost new manufacturing industry and employment opportunities as well as export of associated technology, expertise and services in Australia.

Last updated 28 March 2023


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