Hydrogen

Why hydrogen?

Hydrogen can play a major role in the transition to a low carbon economy. It is an important energy carrier of the future with several key qualities: it can be used in fuel cells with high efficiency, or combusted with near-zero emissions, as well as having useful storing and transporting qualities to complement intermittent renewables.

Hydrogen has great potential in transport, heating, and power generation, but there are several technical, economic, environmental and political challenges associated with enabling a sustainable hydrogen economy. At the Sustainable Gas Institute, we examine these aspects to elucidate the potential role of hydrogen as an energy vector.

Key objectives of the hydrogen programme

  • Examine the potential roles and pathways to enabling hydrogen as an energy vector.
  • Characterise and improve the environmental and economic qualities of different hydrogen production technologies, supply chains and end uses.
  • Explore the potential to use or repurpose current natural gas infrastructures for hydrogen distribution for residential, commercial, industrial and vehicle end-uses.
  • Determine the techno-economic and environmental impacts associated with different methods of hydrogen transport, including liquefaction, pipeline, or via conversion to ammonia.
  • Investigate possible synergies between infrastructures to supply hydrogen for heat and for transport.

Projects

Hydrogen Grid to Vehicles (HG2V) with Cadent Gas

The HG2V project investigates the implications of transporting hydrogen through the existing UK natural gas grid for end use in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Given the high purity requirements of hydrogen fuel cells and the contaminants likely present in future hydrogen infrastructure, there may be a need to purify hydrogen before dispensing at refuelling stations. The project also considers the technical, cost and emissions implications.

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Hydrogen Project

This project looks at gas decarbonisation pathways in Brazil. Work Package 5 specifically explores the economic feasibility of adapting gas infrastructure for supplying hydrogen in cities. It studies the possible synergies of hydrogen infrastructure to supply different energy services such as heating, cooling, and transport, together with trade-offs with other energy vectors such as other fuels or electricity.

Estimating Hydrogen Supply Chain Emissions Under Uncertainty

Hydrogen is a key decarbonising energy vector and may be produced from a variety of sources (both renewable and fossil fuel). However, whilst direct greenhouse gas emissions are near-zero, upstream supply chain emissions may be substantial, primarily governed by the feedstock and the conversion process. There is also a significant variation in supply chain emissions within each category, caused by differing efficiencies and technologies, as well as regional and regulatory differences. This study provides an estimate of the distribution of emissions for each feedstock and process via the creation of a probabilistic and multi-parametric set of supply chain models. Recommendations for reducing emissions and uncertainties will be made from a technological and policy perspective and a regional assessment of the most suitable options for hydrogen will be carried out, where lowest emissions will be determined for regional conditions.

H2FC Supergen - the hydrogen and fuel cells research hub 

H2FC Supergen Hub

H2FC Supergen, the hydrogen and fuel cells research hub, is managed by the Sustainable Gas Institute. The hub is funded by the Research Council's UK Energy Programme, as part of the government’s Sustainable Power Generation and Supply Initiative. It was set up in 2012 to address the key challenges facing the hydrogen and fuel cell sector as it strives to provide cost competitive, low carbon technologies in a more secure UK energy landscape.

For more information, please visit the H2FC Supergen website.

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Academic Expertise

Meet the Imperial academics working in hydrogen:

Publications

The Sustainable Gas Institute has published a number of papers about hydrogen.

Read SGI publications about hydrogen