University of Bath to drive forward research into use of hydrogen and other alternative fuels

April 27, 2022

The University of Bath is to become a national centre of excellence for research into hydrogen and alternative low carbon fuels.

The university, already one of the UK’s leading research institutions across a wide range of disciplines, this month began hosting an important new research project into how the UK could increase its use of alternative liquid fuels and hydrogen as part of its commitment to reaching net zero in 2050. 

Headed by Prof Tim Mays from the university’s Department of Chemical Engineering, the project is looking into the challenges blocking the wider use of low carbon fuels in the UK. It is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) aimed at tackling the research.

Prof Mays, pictured – along with Prof Sara Walker of Newcastle University – will become UK Hydrogen Research Co-ordinators aiming, over the next six months, to establish national centres of excellence based at their home institutions.

The co-ordinator 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 decarbonise 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 fertilisers. 

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.

Industry partners involved in the project include ITM Power, Health and Safety Executive, Jaguar Land Rover, GKN Aerospace, Wales and West Utilities, Siemens Energy and the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association.

Prof 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.”

Bath’s funding from the Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC), initially totalling more than £400,000, will be used to support research activities including UK-wide stakeholder engagement workshops.

Prof Mays’ team, which also includes co-investigators Prof Rachael Rothman from the University of Sheffield, and Prof Shanwen Tao from the University of Warwick, will bring together high-impact, multidisciplinary, multi-site projects with the aim of building longer-term research alliances.

University of Bath vice-chancellor and president Prof Ian White said: “I was delighted to hear from the UKRI of Prof Mays’ success in receiving funding for their highly competitive Research Challenges Coordinator Call.

“We should be proud of not only his recent funding success, but his contribution to hydrogen research in the UK.

“This project, aligned to our primary institutional research theme of sustainability, supports the strategic pillars of our university strategy, including driving high-impact research and enhancing strategic partnerships.

“Moreover, it lays the foundation for the creation of a UK centre of research excellence in hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels to be based at Bath.”   

Prof Mays will also lead a Bath Beacon at the university called Future Fuels: Hydrogen and its Carriers. This initiative is aligned to national priorities that empower the university’s research community to tackle major global challenges by building consortia for large-scale funding.


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