CO2CRC is building on its strong research, development and demonstration (RD&D) experience to establish the Carbon Negative Hydrogen Utilisation Hub (CNHUB) – the first-of-its-kind cradle-to-cradle RD&D centre
As the world continues its transition to a circular economy the low emission technologies, renewable carbon and clean hydrogen would play significant roles. With biomass and biowastes replacing fossil fuels as the main sources of virgin carbon, and clean hydrogen replacing grey hydrogen, carbon negative and carbon neutral products can potentially replace their fossil fuel derived analogues in the circular economy. Carbon negative hydrogen is any biohydrogen where the co-product of CO2 is either sequestered or converted to bio-products, thereby making the hydrogen carbon negative. Compared to green hydrogen where no CO2 is added or removed from the atmosphere, carbon negative hydrogen removes CO2 from the atmosphere. Similarly, biochemicals and biofuels produced in a biorefinery where CO2 is either consumed during the process or captured and sequestered are considered NETs. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine of the US, and the Royal Society of the UK, technologies that remove CO2 from the atmosphere would be essential for the climate target of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.
A biorefinery is a renewable analogue of a petrochemical refinery that converts biomass and biowastes into chemicals, fuels, and products. A Carbon Negative Biorefinery is a specific type of biorefinery concept developed by Dr Adeel Ghayur that consumes CO2 and wastes as feeds in addition to biomass and biowastes for the production of carbon negative hydrogen, biochemicals, biofuels and bioplastics. The CNHUB is based on the carbon negative biorefinery concept.
CO2CRC’s techno-economic simulation results for the carbon negative biorefinery concept show carbon negative hydrogen production cost of $1.60 per kilogram, much lower than Australia’s current goal of renewable hydrogen for $2 per kilogram. These economic assessments were carried out for a small facility producing 8,000 metric tonnes per annum of renewable carbon negative hydrogen. The facility captures 57,000 metric tonnes of CO2 from the non-food biomass/biowaste (over 7 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of hydrogen). The techno-economic study cost estimation includes the separation, purification and capture of CO2. The facility’s energy demands are fulfilled from renewable resources and included as well. A large facility can produce up to 80,000 metric tonnes per annum and is expected to benefit from economies of scale.
Currently, very limited chemicals and biofuels are commercially produced in biorefineries. This is due to the lengthy and expensive four stage process from laboratory research to the commercial biorefinery. Within this process, demonstration is the most crucial stage as it determines the technological and commercial viability of the large scale biorefinery. Current designs and operational practices of the demonstration stage are too costly, time consuming and inflexible. The CNHUB is being designed to address this critical drawback and provide an accelerated pathway to companies for their research from laboratory to commercial scale.
To provide an accelerated and low-cost scale-up of negative emission technologies (NETs) and waste recycling from lab to the demo-scale
CNHUB’s Proposed Capabilities
The CNHUB is based on a Carbon Negative Biorefinery concept and designed as the RD&D demo-centre for the circular, hydrogen and bio-economies’ industries with:
- Feedstocks of biowaste, plastic waste, biomass, hydrogen and CO2;
- Technologies of thermochemical and biochemical (fermentation) processes; and
- Products of biohydrogen, biochemicals, biofuels, bioplastics and bioproducts.