Techno-economic and environmental assessment of LNG export for hydrogen production

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A critical requirement of a widely contemplated hydrogen economy is the development of a low carbon hydrogen supply chain that is cost competitive. This comprehensive techno-economic assessment demonstrates, for the first time, the viability of a complete hydrogen supply chain based on the transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG). This is demonstrated via the established LNG trade route from Australia to Japan against three key performance indicators (KPIs): delivered hydrogen cost, CO2 emissions intensity (EI) across the entire supply chain, and technology readiness level (TRL). The hydrogen supply chain entails LNG export to Japan where it is used for blue hydrogen production; the by-product CO2 is then liquefied and repatriated to Australia for sequestration or utilisation. Within this supply chain, various hydrogen production technologies are assessed, including steam methane reforming (SMR), autothermal reforming (ATR) and natural gas pyrolysis (NGP). SMR with carbon capture and storage (CCS) resulted in the lowest total hydrogen supply cost of 19 USD/GJ (2.3 USD/kgH2) which comfortably meets the 2030 Japanese hydrogen cost target of 25 USD/GJ (3 USD/kgH2) and is very close to the 17 USD/GJ 2050 Japanese hydrogen cost target. This technology also obtained the lowest CO2 emission intensity (EI) of 38 kgCO2/GJ (4.5 kgCO2/kgH2); this was surprisingly lower than ATR with CCS primarily due to the emissions associated with ATR electricity provision for air separation. Future technologies and strategies are detailed so as to further reduce cost and supply chain emissions; these were shown to be able to reduce total CO2 EI to 14 kgCO2/GJ (1.6 kgCO2/kgH2). Hence this analysis indicates that this supply chain can act to significantly reduce CO2 emissions whilst uniquely meeting targeted hydrogen supply costs up to 2050. As such it is proposed here as an eminently viable hydrogen export option deploying both existing technology and capacity, at least until other hydrogen supply chain vectors (such as liquid hydrogen and ammonia) derived from green hydrogen production become competitive across all the KPIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8343-8369
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number23
Early online date15 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2023


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