Hydrogen will play an important role in the energy transition as an energy carrier for Australia and globally. Moreover, Australia also has great opportunities to export hydrogen given its geographical and natural resources’ strengths. Australia could export over three million tons hydrogen to meet the global hydrogen demand by 2040, worth up to $10 billion each year to the economy by that time. However, the volumetric inferior calorific values in kWh/m3 of hydrogen is the lowest (3kWh/m3) compared with other fuels although the mass energy density is the highest (33.3 kWh/kg). Therefore, scalable, large-scale and long-term hydrogen storage systems are becoming the centre of attention to underpin the hydrogen economy supply chain in Australia.
In this context, large-scale hydrogen storage in the subsurface has been proposed in existing salt caverns, depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline aquifers. Compared to surface hydrogen storage, underground hydrogen storage has benefits of safety and scale brought by the solid caprock sealing, large storage capacities, lower cost than surface tanks, and high availability in existing underground storage sites. However, given that salt caverns may not be widely available for underground hydrogen storage in Australia, in particular along the coastal line, saline aquifers and depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs, particularly gas reservoirs, have been widely considered for large-scale and cyclical short-term (weeks to months) hydrogen storage. While the expectations of large-scale hydrogen storage in porous media are high, the feasibility and potential risks remain untested and unquantified. These technical and economic uncertainties to manage and predict the large-scale hydrogen storage in porous media need to be addressed.
This project aims at enabling the hydrogen underground storage capacity in Australia by developing a framework (a screening tool) for hydrogen underground storage. This screening tool will relate hydrogen-brine-rock interactions, microbial reactions, geology and petrophysical properties and exiting number of wells and materials to caprock sealing and integrity, wellbore integrity, cycling process of hydrogen, hydrogen conversion and contamination, etc. This tool will be used to select and evaluate the potential of hydrogen storage in depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs in the region of Katnook Gas Processing Facility (owned and operated by Beach Energy). In parallel with these activities, laboratory and modelling studies will be conducted in a PhD project to understand the impact of H2-Brine-Shale interactions on caprock integrity and sealing capacity. In addition, two MPhil projects will be carried out by staff from Beach Energy to assess and characterize caprock fracture for hydrogen underground storage, and to understand where and how the H2 economy best fits through energy network modelling in the context of Beach Energy’s business model.
Partners: Beach Energy, Curtin University
Project Researchers: Dr Quan Xie, Dr Qun Lin, Professor Chris Elders, Dr Mauricio Di Lorenzo, Dr Mohammad Sarmadivaleh, Dr Ali Saeedi
Duration: 4 years