IPlantE News

A new source of hydrogen power

31st Aug 2018

Researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University have unveiled plans to use screen-printed nanotechnology to produce hydrogen as a green source of power.

The University claims it can print large volumes of electrodes for use in electrolysers, which can separate water into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen could be fed into fuel cells to create energy when needed and would be a more efficient source of fuel than other renewables, according to the University, and would represent a cost-effective alternative to expensive diesel and petrol imports.

Rewarded with a £100,000 grant from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, researchers will ensure the fuel cells and electrolysers are ‘harsh water tested’ on Scotland’s Orkney Islands, in collaboration with the European Marine Energy Centre, before further feasibility tests are conducted.

Research associate Dr Samuel Rowley-Neale said: “The electricity generated by wind, wave, tidal and solar power is often ill correlated to consumer demand and typically has to be fed into the National Grid where it is used instantly or must be expensively captured somehow, such as in a battery – which has issues with degradation – or else the turbines have to be shut off to ensure the generated electricity does not overload the electricity grid.

“In contrast, an electrolyser creates hydrogen that can be easily stored and physically transported as a gas with no deterioration, and then later fed into a fuel cell for conversion to power when needed.”

The University was handed the grant after proof-of-concept studies found that cheaper materials can be used to manufacture electrodes. Platinum and iridium, which are used in traditional methods, are expensive.
Dr Rowley-Neale added: “This is the perfect opportunity to explore whether we can produce a less polluting alternative to current fossil fuel-based energy generation techniques.

“This will put Manchester Metropolitan at the forefront of renewable energy research as it helps to tackle climate change by enabling off-grid clean and cost-effective hydrogen production.”

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