UK University Researchers Win Funding for Alternative Fuels Study

University researchers in the UK has won the backing for a project set to study the creation of vital automotive hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels infrastructure.

Set to begin this month at the University of Bath, the project aims to see the building of a national center of excellence focused on promoting the future uptake of ‘green’ fuels as an alternative to battery powered vehicles.

Professor Tim Mays, from Bath’s department of chemical engineering, will head up the project funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) aimed at tackling the research challenges blocking the wider use of these low carbon fuels in the UK. Mays will become one of two UK hydrogen research co-ordinators who aim over the next six months to establish national centers of excellence based at their home institutions. The other co-ordinator project exploring better systems integration of these fuels will be headed up at Newcastle University by Professor Sara Walker.

Funding at Bath, initially totaling more than £400,000 ($525,000), will be used to support research activities including UK-wide stakeholder engagement workshops. Mays’ team will bring together high-impact, multidisciplinary, multi-site projects, with the aim of building longer-term research alliances. The committed team includes co-Investigators Professor Rachael Rothman from the University of Sheffield and Professor Shanwen Tao from the University of Warwick.

There is a strong engagement from industry, with high-profile project partners including ITM Power, Health and Safety Executive, Jaguar Land Rover, GKN Aerospace, Wales and West Utilities, Siemens Energy, Wales and West Utilities and the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association.

The project team will engage stakeholders and use a ‘theory of change’ process to map the greatest research challenges, as well as potential solutions to these challenges and their impacts. They will focus on the potential for these fuels to decarbonize land, water and air transport, electricity generation and domestic and industrial heating as well as high CO2 emitting industries such as the manufacture of steel, cement, glass, and fertilizers. Together these areas make up about 90% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. Hence the potential impact of the project is enormous specially to support the country meeting its demanding target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Mays said: “A thriving, low carbon hydrogen sector is essential for the government’s plans to build back better, with a cleaner, greener energy system. Large amounts of low carbon hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels such as ammonia will be needed, which must be stored and transported to points of use. Much research is required, and we will work collaboratively across multiple disciplines to help meet these challenges.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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