Keele leading programme to put the Midlands at the forefront of hydrogen innovation
Keele University is leading a new programme designed to support and foster the creation of a new hydrogen economy in the Midlands.
‘HyDEX’ brings together the university partners in the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA), with multinational businesses, SMEs and other partners, to accelerate innovation in hydrogen, build markets and the supply chain, and support the skills needed for the new hydrogen economy and ecosystem.
The aim of HyDEX is to address the challenge of building a thriving new business, industrial and manufacturing sector in hydrogen, where very little currently exists. The programme will allow businesses to accelerate the development and viability of new hydrogen products and associated intellectual property, while supporting the transition from declining industrial sectors and enabling the training and re-skilling required.
The £4.99 million, three-year programme, funded via the Research England Development (RED) Fund scheme, run by Research England, which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will see the ERA university partners making available their £111m worth of hydrogen facilities, large scale demonstration programmes, and research capabilities to regional businesses.
This will be supported by the expertise of leading industrial partners in transport, heating and manufacturing technologies, who are also involved in HyDEX, these include Worcester-Bosch and Cadent (hydrogen boilers and gas networks); Intelligent Energy (fuel cells); Toyota (hydrogen vehicles); FAUN Zoeller (heavy vehicles); Cenex, ENGIE (Hydrogen Networks); Progressive Energy, ITM Motive (hydrogen generation and transport respectively); Siemens and ENGIE (hydrogen production and storage).
The universities involved in the programme are from the Midlands Innovation consortium and include Keele (project lead), Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick, while civic partners such as Midlands Engine, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), local government and local authorities, will also contribute to support the creation of a market for low-carbon hydrogen solutions as part of the net-zero transition.
HyDEX will also facilitate links with growing international markets in countries such as China, Australia and South Korea, in order to build commercial opportunities that reach beyond the Midlands and the UK.
Professor Mark Ormerod, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost of Keele University, and Institutional Lead for Sustainability said: “We are very excited to be launching the HyDEX programme and leading it from Keele University. At Keele we have been leading the way in researching the use of hydrogen in the domestic gas heating system and in smart energy systems. This experience and expertise, when combined with the wealth of knowledge and expertise in the ERA partnership and our collaborators will enable HyDEX to have a really significant impact on the use of hydrogen in the future as part of our transition to a low carbon society.”
Keele has already played a crucial role in demonstrating the potential of hydrogen, with the landmark HyDeploy project which ran on campus during 2020. The project, run in partnership with Cadent, saw hydrogen successfully blended into Keele's campus gas network to show the potential for hydrogen to significantly reduce the carbon emissions associated with domestic and business heating and cooking.
Dr Sharon George of Keele University, Principal Investigator for HyDEX, said: “I am looking forward to leading the HyDEX programme. It will be a great challenge -we are seeking to support the building of a hydrogen economy where one currently doesn’t exist. I am confident that with our academic, industrial and public sector partners, we will be able to demonstrate the commercial potential of hydrogen technologies, support businesses to create products, and build the skills base needed to support the transition to hydrogen.”
Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Energy Research Accelerator, said: “The ERA universities have invested significantly in hydrogen infrastructure, creating an array of great facilities and demonstration projects. The HyDEX programme will see experts from our universities, working with Midlands’ businesses to use these facilities to develop new, innovative products.”
Wesley Tivnen, Decarbonisation Lead for Siemens Energy, (UK and Ireland) added: “For Siemens Energy and the other business partners involved in the programme, HyDEX provides a unique opportunity for us to develop and test our technologies and prove the worth of hydrogen as a crucial green energy source for the UK and world, as we transition to a net-zero society.”
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