New innovation to recover hydrogen from waste could help safeguard UK energy security

A team of experts at The University of Manchester led by Dr Amir Keshmiri have received government funding to work with Powerhouse Energy Plc - a world-leading UK company specialising in treatment of unrecyclable wastes - to help recover hydrogen for clean energy use.

This project will develop and validate a novel and inexpensive game-changing hydrogen separation technique that builds upon Powerhouse Energy’s expertise in waste treatment and the international track-record of Dr Amir Keshmiri’s team in fluid dynamics and thermochemical analysis.

This potential breakthrough in advanced thermal treatment to recover hydrogen from unrecyclable wastes could make a significant contribution to the UK’s net zero targets and reduce project costs compared to existing recovery methods - also, as well as being "greener and cheaper", this new technology would be an important asset to help secure UK energy security at a time of major crisis and uncertainly.

The rapid development and commercialisation of the invention, that the collaboration will directly support achieving the UK governments Low Carbon Hydrogen Strategy’s 5GW installed capacity target by 2030.

The project, which is initially funded by the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account grant, effectively encourages the swifter adoption of local, cleaner, low carbon energy - while addressing a growing unrecyclable waste issue, working within the existing waste hierarchy framework.

Mr Paul Emmitt , Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director at Powerhouse Energy (PHE), said the project will allow PHE to edge closer to overcoming significant cost barriers through innovation to deliver the next generation of cleaner energy technology. The pioneering technique, once commercialised, will enable the faster rollout of inexpensive hydrogen.

He added: "The invention has the potential to overcome a significant cost prohibitive factor for commercial hydrogen extraction from Syngas [ie synthesis gas, a hydrogen-based mixture that can be used as a fuel not just for PHE, but all next generation advanced thermal technologies, potentially allowing more facilities to be developed for the same available capital, enhancing production towards and even beyond the ambitious 5GW target. Quantifying the impact for PHE, the proposed hydrogen separation technique has the potential to reduce project costs by up to 17.5%, or over 400m for 59 facilities."

Dr Amir Keshmiri, Associate Professor in Computational Fluid Dynamics at The University of Manchester , said: "The collaboration allows The University of Manchester to be at the forefront of high-impact, game-changing technology development within the emerging clean hydrogen energy sector - and allows the academic team to capitalise on the bespoke hydrogen models developed to a wider audience.

The topical nature of hydrogen as a critical part of the UK’s clean energy strategy and a central part of energy security and independence plans, means this project is strategically important to the UoM and is directly aligned with one of its ’ research beacons’

Dr Kashmiri said clean energy from hydrogen - dubbed ’green hydrogen’ - will be have a flagship spotlight at COP27, the climate change summit currently being hosted in Sharm el-Sheikh. He added: "Production and storage of low-carbon hydrogen is one of the key themes of COP27 which is hosted by Egypt as part of the hydrogen transition summit."