News Release

The University of Manchester lead innovation in clean hydrogen production

Business Announcement

University of Manchester

A new technology that offers a cost-effective way to produce synthetic gas and pure hydrogen with nearly zero direct carbon dioxide emissions will be developed and delopyed by an international team of scientists, led by The University of Manchester.

The RECYCLE (REthinking low Carbon hYdrogen production by Chemical Looping rEforming) project will construct and test a fully integrated innovative hydrogen production pilot unit based at the University.

The technology uses special reactors called fixed bed reactors to convert different materials into hydrogen gas. The process also effectively captures and separates carbon dioxide.

It offers a competitive solution for the production of low c­arbon hydrogen using both natural gas, biobased streams­ and waste materials to provide low c­ost hydrogen.

The £5.1 million collaborative project is funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero as part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), and involves five world-leading industrial partners in the area of engineering for sustainable development, including: Johnson Matthey, TotalEnergies OneTech, Kent, Helical Energy and Element Energy.

Dr Vincenzo Spallina, Senior Lecturer at The University of Manchester and Principal Investigator of the RECYCLE project, said: “The feasibility study carried out during Phase 1 demonstrated great potential for low carbon hydrogen in the UK market and it has huge implications for several industrial stakeholders.

“This project will demonstrate its feasibility at a pre-commercial scale to increase awareness of the next steps towards commercial implementation. The demonstration plant will be installed in the James Chadwick Building where we are currently renovating the existing pilot hall area to establish the Sustainable Industrial Hub for Research and Innovation on sustainable process technologies.

“Our students will have the fantastic opportunity to see the next-generation hydrogen plant in operation as a unique teaching and learning experience.”

Professor Alice Larkin, Head of the School of Engineering at The University of Manchester, added: “Our University is committed to achieving zero carbon emissions by 2038 as part of its Environmental Sustainability Strategy and supported by activity through our  Advanced Materials and Energy research beacons.

“This collaborative project will boost the prestige of our academic community to secure clean and sustainable development through Science and Innovation in close partnerships with industries.”

In the recently published Powering Up Britain: Energy Security Plan, the UK government expects to have two gigawatts of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity in operation or construction by 2025 and 10 gigawatts in 2030, subject to affordability and value for money.

The RECYCLE project represents an opportunity to to show continued innovation in the development of resilient and cost effective solutions for a low carbon future.

Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan said: “Hydrogen, known as the super fuel of the future, is critical to delivering UK energy security and clean, sustainable growth. “I’m delighted that we have awarded funding to The University of Manchester so that they can build and test their first-of-a-kind hydrogen technology. This will generate opportunities for UK businesses to export their expertise around the world whilst supporting our ambition to have amongst the cheapest energy in Europe.”

The final demonstration of the project is planned for the second half of 2024 in the pilot area of the James Chadwick Building at The University of Manchester.

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