Keele - the UK hotspot for carbon busting hydrogen heating research

Keele’s Institute for Sustainable Futures is playing a central role, working with industry leaders, in testing low carbon technology in real world conditions. As the drive to tackle climate changing carbon emissions rises to the top of the international agenda, Keele’s HyDeploy Project is making a stir in academia and in Government.

The project is the subject of a significant article, published in the June edition of in the Clean Energy Journal, a leading international energy research publication. HyDeploy is the UK’s first at scale trial of blending hydrogen into natural gas to provide energy for a small town size community, on the isolated gas grid on Keele’s University campus.

The project is on the verge of going live - with 100 homes and over 30 university buildings, including the Vice-Chancellor's building, getting the new low-carbon hydrogen power for heating from this autumn. The hydrogen is generated with an electrolyser, powered from Keele’s green electricity supply - so it ticks all the boxes. It got the go ahead from the national Health and Safety Executive last November after 18 months of rigorous experimentation.

The article in the Clean Energy Journal (written by Project Manager Tommy Isaacs) looks at the breadth of experimental works, engineering analysis and process equipment which has been thoroughly stress tested to ensure that trial can go ahead. The interdisciplinary team has demonstrated that the hydrogen blend would be as safe as the current natural gas supply on campus.

Prof Chris Fogwill, Chair of Keele’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, said HyDeploy research was making waves nationally and internationally.

“This project has put Keele centre stage in the UK’s drive to heat our homes and businesses without heating up the planet. The Government is taking a massive interest in the prospects for hydrogen and we are already working alongside our partners in industry developing two larger demonstration trials in the north of England. The Keele experience is helping to shape energy policy for the nation,” he said.

HyDeploy is just one element of the mix in the Keele commitment to a sustainable future. Keele is providing the test-bed for a uniquely integrated energy network with a high-tech brain at its heart.

SEND is Europe’s largest SMART Energy Network Demonstrator project - bringing together a host of low-carbon energy generation technologies in a small-town sized energy ecology. Complex energy flows will be self-regulated, with a constant flow of live information from a vast network of energy sensors informing a high-tech intelligent information management and control system. It’s a European first.

And in July Keele got the go ahead from the local planning authority to push with ahead another piece in the energy jigsaw, plans for 24,000 solar panels and two wind turbines, generating a projected 50% of the university’s energy needs.

“Keele is absolutely committed root and branch to being an agent of change in the battle to protect our planet for future generations,” Chris said.

“In May we welcomed Sir David Attenborough to open our new £45 million life science laboratories, named in his honour. He met with sand students to discuss their pioneering research and studies in fields such as food security, biodiversity, and global health.

“And on the same day the University declared a Climate Emergency and announced it had divested from fossil fuels. The Institute of Sustainable Futures is driving change local, nationally and internationally,” he said.

Project Manager and article author Tommy Isaacs said the HyDeploy programme was the first stepping stone in deploying hydrogen within the UK energy system.

“The scientific sandpit of collaborative research undertaken at Keele makes the university the perfect location to investigate and understand how best to utilise hydrogen within a heating network. More work is needed to fully commercialise hydrogen, however all great oaks started as a seed in fertile soil – Keele has provided that soil to nurture hydrogen deployment within the UK.”

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