Durham to lead £1m research project into hydrogen-fuelled transport

Decarbonising transport emissions through the advancement of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles and technology is the aim of a £1m research project led by Durham University.

Durham’s researchers will lead national efforts across Government, industry and other universities on the Network-H2 initiative funded by the prestigious UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Road, rail, air and marine transport accounts for almost a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions making it a significant contributor to climate change

Hydrogen offers a clean and renewable alternative to fossil fuels and can bring significant environmental benefits to transport, society and the wider energy system.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles only produce heat and water. Hydrogen can be produced from a whole variety of domestic resources, such as natural gas, nuclear power, and biomass. It can also be produced from renewable electricity sources such as solar and wind energy.

The Network-H2 project will bring together internationally leading experts from energy as well as the road, rail, air and marine transport sectors to support the decarbonisation of the whole transport network.

It will look at the technological, social, political and economic factors necessary to increase the use of hydrogen as a fuel while also seeking to maximise knowledge exchange between researchers and industry.

Professor Tony Roskilly, Professor of Energy Systems in the Department of Engineering, at Durham University, is director of Network-H2.

Professor Roskilly said: “We need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to cut the harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.

“Developing sustainable alternatives to the fuels we currently use for our transport system is crucial if we are going to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the next 20 to 30 years.

“Hydrogen provides us with a potentially clean option to decarbonise transport by removing the detrimental effects that using fossil fuels has on the environment and public health.

“Network-H2 will bring together the leading experts in this field so we can begin to establish hydrogen as a fuel of the future.”

Dr Andrew Smallbone, Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering, at Durham University, is an expert in this field. He said: “Battery electric vehicles are now a serious option for road transport for short range, lightweight vehicles.

“However, analysis shows that the hydrogen option makes ever more sense for larger vehicles and for regular long journeys.

“This makes it a credible option for decarbonising parts of the transport system including the marine and freight sectors.

“Furthermore, a scaled-up hydrogen transportation sector offers huge benefits to managing flexibility in the UK power, heat and wider energy system.”

The EPSRC, part of UK Research and Innovation, has provided a total of £5m in funding to five Decarbonising Transport Networks+.

The Network-H2 team at Durham University is supported by researchers at Newcastle University and the University of Southampton.

Network partners also include the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK Ltd, Consortium on Turbulent Reacting Flows, Department for Transport, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Energy Systems Catapult, Transport Systems Catapult, and the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “A modern, advanced transport system is one that connects people to jobs while boosting economic growth and productivity. But with transport representing almost a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gases, the industry also needs to evolve to become more sustainable.

“Bringing together some of the brightest minds from all corners of the UK, these transport networks will boost the development of technologies that have the potential to clean up our transport systems – so we can cycle, drive and even fly into a greener future.”

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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