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Hydrogen dual-use storage could help reduce operating costs for UK food cold chain

Hydrogen dual-use storage could help reduce operating costs for UK food cold chain

The University of Nottingham has revealed today (May 28) that it is kick starting a new £1m ($1.4m) project to develop dual-use energy storage technology that can deliver hydrogen to a fuel cell and generate direct cooling for refrigeration.

The system would allow hydrogen power to become a key part of the UK’s sustainable energy future and to help decarbonise the UK’s food cold chain, responsible for 18% of the country’s total energy use.

The project aims to produce a highly efficient, innovative and cost-effective dual-use hydrogen storage technology that, due to its versatility, can be used in a range of industrial cooling processes.

Successful implementation of this technology could reduce the UK food cold chain’s dependency on imported energy and accelerate the large-scale roll out of hydrogen fuel cells for heavy good vehicle (HGV) applications.

This could lead to an increase in operating efficiency with a corresponding reduction in commercial operating costs, potentially making the UK more economically competitive.

Read more: Joule to provide twin-expander refrigeration tech for hydrogen liquefaction

Dr. Sanliang Ling, Project Lead from the Advanced Materials Research Group, said, “We aim to develop integrated hydrogen storage technologies that will simultaneously provide the controlled release of hydrogen to service fuel cell power needs and direct cooling.

“Our new technology provides an opportunity to assist in the decarbonisation of the UK food cold chain from farm to fork. This is essential as heating and cooling accounts for over a third of CO2 emissions in the UK.”

Over the course of the three years, the project will look into three key factors.

The project will look to formulate and validate a new intermetallic alloy suitable for dual-use hydrogen storage system for different applications in the UK food cold chain.

Critical properties of the alloy include the hydrogen gravimetric/volumetric density and the pressure at which hydrogen can be supplied to a fuel cell across relevant cooling temperatures.

As well as this, it will design and develop a prototype dual-use intermetallic alloy-based hydrogen store.

Read more: H2SYS, Hyundai collaborate to commercialise new high power hydrogen generator

The effective use of the store’s hydrogen and thermal capacities, system efficiency and cooling power of a dual-use hydrogen system will be tested under operational conditions commensurate with the requirements of commercial operators prevalent in the UK food cold chain.

The project will also survey key operators in the UK food transport industry to identify barriers to using hydrogen technology to decarbonise current practices.

Lord Callanan, Minister for Climate Change, said, “The way we use energy in our buildings makes up almost a third of all UK carbon emissions.

“Reducing that to virtually zero is going to be key to eradicating our contribution to climate change by 2050.

“That’s why it’s important that innovative projects like decarbonisation of food cold chain through integrated hydrogen technologies and variable-temperature thermochemical energy storage system (VTTESS) in Nottingham receive backing to develop new and effective ways to heat and cool our homes and workspaces, helping drive down the costs of low-carbon technologies so everyone can feel the benefits of cheaper and greener energy.”

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