Renewable hydrogen production via biological and thermochemical routes: Nanomaterials, economic analysis and challenges

Fazil Qureshi, Mohammad Yusuf, Muhammad Tahir, Moinul Haq, Montaha Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed, Hesam Kamyab, Hong Ha T. Nguyen, Dai Viet N. Vo, Hussameldin Ibrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The urgent need to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly in relation to climate change, is driving the demand for new sustainable renewable fuels. This demand is promoting the expansion of de-carbonization efforts, which hold tremendous potential as a renewable energy source. One area of focus is the production of hydrogen (H2), which has long been a popular subject of discussion. Currently, large quantities of H2 are generated using conventional fossil fuels. However, the finite nature of these resources has compelled the global community to explore alternative, more environmentally friendly options like biomass. Generating H2 on a large scale from various biomasses presents a complex challenge. Researchers have identified thermochemical (TC) and biological (BL) processes as the primary methods for converting biomass into H2, although other techniques exist as well. Commercializing H2 as a fuel presents significant technological, financial, and environmental hurdles. Nevertheless, nanomaterials (NMs) have shown promise in overcoming some of the obstacles associated with H2 production. This review focuses on the use of NMs in TC and BL processes for H2 generation. Additionally, the paper provides a brief overview of the methods and financial considerations involved in enhancing biomass-based H2 production. Studies indicate that the production of bio-H2 is relatively expensive. Direct bio-photolysis costs range from $2.13 kg−1 to $7.24 kg-1, indirect bio-photolysis costs range from $1.42 kg−1 to $7.54 kg−1, fermentation costs range from $7.54 kg−1 to $7.61 kg−1, biomass pyrolysis costs range from $1.77 kg−1 to $2.05 kg−1, and gasification costs $1.42 kg−1. The paper also explores various challenges related to biomass conversion and utilization for H2 production, aiming to better understand the feasibility of a biomass-based H2 economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-88
Number of pages21
JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Biological hydrogen
  • Economic analysis
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Nano-materials
  • Thermochemical hydrogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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