Hazer Group (ASX:HZR) hopes to have a commercial plant for its hydrogen-graphite process running in 2023 and start locking in contracts from this year.

CEO Geoff Ward says they’re already fielding interest from foreign entities for plants at the 2,500 tonne per annum size.

Hazer, which stands for ‘hydrogen and zero emission research’, is one of the few ASX-listed players dabbling in hydrogen after developing a technology for producing hydrogen and graphite from natural gas and iron ore.

Hydrogen production and use is an industry that is in its infancy in Australia but which has the backing of major players in politics, oil and gas, infrastructure, car making, and petroleum.

Hazer already has a 100 tonne pa pilot plant in operation but the minimum size to be economic is about 1,200 tonnes pa, Mr Ward said at the Australian Hydrogen Energy Summit in Melbourne today.

The “really viable window” is 1,200-5,000 tonnes pa, with the sweet spot coming in at 3,000 tonnes.

This is because Mr Ward envisions them running off a biogas feedstock sourced from sewage or landfills, an often wasted resource.

Above 5,000 tonnes pa they start to run out of biogas sources large enough to feed the plant, while below 1,200 tonnes they can’t produce enough hydrogen and graphite to sell to make it viable.

Graphite made through the Hazer Process recently passed CSIRO tests showing it’s ideal for lithium-ion battery anodes, with 80 per cent samples outperforming industry benchmarks.