Cranfield University at the Forefront of New £14.1m Global Initiative to Transform Net Zero Hydrogen Production

Cranfield University is leading the UK’s collaboration on an international partnership to make low-cost, large-scale, Net Zero hydrogen production a reality.

The Global Hydrogen Production Technologies Center (HyPT) is a £14.1 million five-year  project led by Cranfield University, Arizona State University, the University of Adelaide and the University of Toronto, which seeks to accelerate Net Zero hydrogen technologies to make it available at low cost - approximately one dollar per kg of hydrogen.

UK Research and Innovation has distributed £6.2 million of funding to UK HyPT partners through their Building a Green Future fund and International Science Partnerships Fund.

Researchers at Cranfield will analyse the social and environmental system changes needed to build a global hydrogen economy, addressing how to make it affordable and looking at the impact production has on local communities and ecosystems. Researchers will also look into developing pathways for energy-intensive and hard-to-abate industries such as ammonia, steel, cement, aluminium, transportation, to adopt it as a source of energy.

Nazmiye Ozkan, Professor in Sustainable Energy Transitions and Head of the Centre for Energy Systems and Strategy at Cranfield University, is the UK lead for the project. 

She said: “HyPT is a transformative international collaboration dedicated to driving the development of a sustainable hydrogen ecosystem. Our mission is to unlock the potential of Net Zero hydrogen production making it an accessible and affordable energy source.

“What’s crucial is that this initiative will not only advance cutting-edge hydrogen technologies, but also address the economic and policy dimensions that are essential to developing a global hydrogen economy.”

Other UK partners include Imperial College London, Newcastle University, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Birmingham.

Crucial role of Net Zero hydrogen in meeting Paris climate targets

Large-scale hydrogen production with Net Zero emissions of greenhouse gases is essential to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate targets and limit global warming to 2˚C. Net Zero hydrogen enables the decarbonisation of many energy-intensive industries such as ammonia, steel, cement, aluminium, transportation, and energy storage. But Net Zero hydrogen is currently several times more expensive than hydrogen produced from fossil fuels, which hinders its widespread adoption.

HyPT seeks to develop three major Net Zero hydrogen production technologies:

1.  water electrolysis where electricity is used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen

2.  methane pyrolysis where a natural gas is heated to a high temperature and splits into hydrogen and solid carbon

3.  photocatalytic solar water splitting where sunlight is used help water break apart into oxygen and hydrogen.

The Center will develop breakthroughs in these technologies while assessing their impacts on local communities and ecosystems so that the Net Zero hydrogen economy develops in an ethical manner.

Arizona State University will lead the water electrolysis work while the University of Adelaide will lead the photocatalysis theme, and the University of Toronto will lead the methane pyrolysis studies.

Dame Ottoline Leyser, UKRI CEO, said: “UKRI’s Building a Green Future Programme aims to harness the power of research and innovation to tackle hard-to-decarbonise sectors in our economy. We are excited to be partnering with our sister organisations in the US, Canada and Australia to accelerate progress toward this crucial goal.

“Our combined investment in Global Centers enables exciting researcher and innovation-led international and interdisciplinary collaboration to drive the energy transition. I look forward to seeing the creative solutions developed through these global collaborations.”

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