An international team of globally renowned scientists are collaborating on a joint research project to generate green hydrogen by exclusively harnessing solar energy, earth-abundant water, biomass and non-critical raw materials.
Central to the €3.3 million project, which is being funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and Innovate UK, is the creation of a pioneering hydrogen production process that neither uses nor produces CO2 or environmentally harmful methane.
As a result, the GH2 project could play a leading role in the reduction of the emissions discharged during the hydrogen production process, which the International Energy Authority estimate to stand at 830 million tonnes of CO2 per year, a tonnage equivalent to the combined emissions of the United Kingdom and Indonesia.
Professor Junwang Tang believes that the GH2 project could substantially lower our dependency on fossil fuels by establishing a sustainable source of on-demand hydrogen that could be employed across multiple industries including transport, energy, agriculture and construction.
“This project further provides a promising solution to the storage of renewable solar energy”.
“As a result, it could make a substantial contribution to the development of a low carbon economy and the growth of sustainable cities, with strong impact on the environment, economy and human wellbeing”.
Currently, most commercial hydrogen producers use fossil fuels to generate steam methane heated to between 704° and 982° Celsius to split water into its two constituent parts, hydrogen and oxygen, so that the gas can be extracted.
Describing the science behind the GH2 project, Dr Yang Lan said that the research team hopes to extract hydrogen from water and bio alcohols by developing a far more efficient way of capturing and projecting solar energy within double-tube flow reactors.
“The environmental and financial cost associated with splitting water to extract hydrogen can be quite high”.
“We want to reduce those costs by strategically harvesting light using a full solar spectrum to drive a chemical reaction that will ultimately produce green hydrogen and high-value chemicals such as acetic acid”.
“Our aim is to induce this process in a reactor coated with catalysts to rapidly generate the temperatures required to split water”.
“Ultimately, we hope to create a process that can be scaled rapidly so that it will generate a lasting environmental, societal and economic impact”.
“That ambition drives our international consortium of global experts in photocatalysis, thermal catalysis, reactor engineering, product separation, simulation and social science”.
Michael Browne, CEO, at Crowdhelix, an Open Innovation platform that forges links between an international network of excellent researchers and innovative companies, believes that the project demonstrates how international collaboration can drive innovation in the green economy.
“Research projects like GH2 drive innovation across multiple disciplines by fostering international collaboration and excellent science”.
“They also speak to the ambitions of the European Union’s Green Deal agenda, and to the goals of its Horizon programme, which foregrounds collaboration to amplify research impact in numerous fields, including climate science and energy”.
“Crowdhelix is privileged to contribute to such a significant project”.