Led by: Prof Andrew Barron, Swansea University
As we turn more towards renewable sources of energy, whose source is fluxional yet un-correlating to demand, a sustainable method of energy vectoring is required. Hydrogen has the potential to act as an energy vector in that large quantities of energy from renewable sources can be diverted into hydrogen where it can then be stored or transported for use at a later date. A universal energy vector could have tremendous implications on the simplicity of a smart grid whereby many small inputs of energy can result in an overall balance of supply and demand, as well as preventing large scale wastage of potential energy supplies such as wind farms that are simply turned off in times of high wind. This activity will create highly efficient water splitting devices for the renewable energy to hydrogen conversion as well as looking at novel sources of energy that are suitable for hydrogen vectoring.
This work package will contain a public engagement project called “TheHydrogenBike ”. This interactive display will allow a member of the public to donate energy in the form of kinetic energy via an exercise bike and observe “Their” energy being converted into hydrogen in real time. Once a suitable quantity of hydrogen has been produced the hydrogen can be used for some application either via a fuel cell or a custom-built hydrogen burner. To know more about this project please visit: http://charles.dunnill.me/outreach/thehydrogenbike/ or follow @TheHydrogenBike on Facebook or Twitter.
In the event of “Green” Hydrogen availability, large scale projects to utilize the hydrogen on a national scale are required. The hydrogen “Catch 22” sees that people do not use hydrogen because they cannot buy it but at the same time they cannot buy it because they do not use it. To overcome this issue a large scale, simple application for hydrogen gas is needed such that immediate use of hydrogen gas can be commercialised. The natural gas stream used in all domestic houses contains a very small proportion of hydrogen >1%. One possible use of hydrogen on the large scale is to dope additional green hydrogen into the gas grid, forming an enhanced mixture of gas. The addition of green hydrogen would have very significant impacts on our national emissions statistics, effectively overnight reducing domestic emissions by a set percentage, whilst having no effect on safety or infrastructural appliances. Real-life experiments will be carried out to investigate and optimize the use of different mixes of enhanced gas in currently available domestic gas appliances. Crucially these experiments will be carried out with an eye for the future given a hypothetical easy source of hydrogen. Previous calculations have been done based on how much hydrogen we can produce rather than how much hydrogen we can potentially use. This activity would involve collaboration and integration with other researchers on the FLEXIS project.
This work package will research and develop tools to understand and assess the use of hydrogen as an energy vector. This will involve both the optimization of water splitting devices, the search for new forms of renewable energy that can be harvested into hydrogen gas ant he integration of hydrogen gas into existing infrastructure and current technology.
The work package will involve:
a) Optimizing and refining water splitting devices that will store excess renewable energy into the form of hydrogen gas with maximum efficiency and safety.
b) Large scale storage and transporting.
c) Investigating new forms of renewable energy that could be accessible via hydrogen gas rather than conventional means.
d) Modelling the introduction of hydrogen to the natural gas stream. There are a number of factors at play, involving density and fluid dynamics, calorific values and CO2 emissions from the burning of the enhanced gas supply. The modelling package would aim to investigate what percentage of hydrogen enhancement would yield optimum performance in all three factors.
e) Real-life experiments will be carried out to investigate and optimize the use of different mixes of enhanced gas in currently available domestic gas appliances.