Hydrogen could replace methane for domestic heating

The generation and storage of hydrogen from excess renewable energy could replace methane for domestic heating thanks to a new research project led by geoscientists at the University of Edinburgh. 

The Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (ESPRC) is behind the £1.4m project which is designed to increase our understanding of the whole hydrogen storage system from physical and chemical processes to social acceptability.

The research team, led by Stuart Haszeldine, professor of carbon capture and storage at the University of Edinburgh, will look at how hydrogen reacts under the earth while also investigating how to efficiently inject and recover hydrogen.

Scientists believe the large-scale generation and storage of hydrogen, generated from excess renewable energy or steam reformation of methane with carbon capture and storage (CCS), could replace methane for domestic heating, thereby reducing carbon emissions from one of the UK’s largest sources.

Reducing methane emissions is an effective way to slow global warming. While methane doesn’t linger as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, it is initially far more devastating to the climate because of how effectively it absorbs heat. In the first two decades after its release, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Whereas according to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, hydrogen is a ‘clean, reliable, quiet, and efficient source’ of energy.

Hydrogen can be used as a fuel to drive an electrochemical process that produces electricity, with water and heat as the only by-product.

Prof Haszeldine said: ‘On the pathway to cleaner air and in the fight against climate change, it is very likely that the UK will change heating in homes and industry from high-carbon methane gas to zero-carbon hydrogen.’

‘Storing hydrogen made in the summer for use in the winter is a very important part of that change. HyStorPor is the UK’s first project to investigate the basic science we need to make that storage work effectively.’

Dr. Katriona Edlmann, chancellor’s fellow in energy at the University of Edinburgh said: ‘Hydrogen is a really exciting opportunity for the UK, putting us at the forefront of the low-carbon energy revolution.’

‘It means we can heat our homes without greenhouse gas emissions, helping us to take a world-leading role in tackling climate change.’

Photo credit – Pixabay


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