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Government support urged for hydrogen heating innovation

Whitehall should provide short to medium-term support to ensure a new generation of hydrogen heating technologies can be realised to help lower carbon emissions, a BEIS-commissioned report argues

Hydrogen burners suitable for use as part of domestic heating solutions are yet to be developed, with government intervention in the form of targeted financial support among key recommendations to address limited innovation of the technology so far.

The conclusions were made in a report by engineering consultancy Frazer Nash that was commissioned by the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to determine the current capability of domestic hydrogen appliances and the role they might play to realise government aims to curb carbon emissions.

The research was focused in part on the possible impact of running heating appliances designed for natural gas on hydrogen. This included identifying technical issues that would emerge from adopting the gas and where individual components may need to be redesigned.

A second focus of the work was evaluating three options for developing hydrogen appliances. These were identified as:

  • New appliances developed as 100 per cent hydrogen solutions
  • Adapting existing natural gas appliances to run on hydrogen
  • Applications for ‘duel-fuel’ appliances able to switch between hydrogen and natural gas

All three options were judged on performance, practical considerations and the cost and timescales needed for wide spread development.

The government said in a statement, “Frazer-Nash undertook a systematic review of the available literature as well as detailed industry engagement involving 1-2-1 conversations and a discussion workshop.”

“The industry engagement included appliance and component manufacturers, gas testing bodies, maintenance and servicing contract companies, trade associations and consultancies.”

Key conclusions

The report concluded that manufacturers would look to develop appliances specifically designed around hydrogen use that can offer similar performance to natural gas counterparts.

The findings said, “This includes appliance efficiency, lifetime, maintenance requirements as well as size and ease of use.”

An option to adapt existing natural gas appliances was deemed possible in the report, yet issues were raised over whether a conversion kit can be produced for burners that would work for different burner product variations.

The study concluded that dual fuel appliances that can use both natural gas and hydrogen were not considered practical without the need to replace current components.

The findings added, “However, in the context of a single gas changeover, ‘Hydrogen Ready’ dual-fuel appliances may be appropriate. By designing the appliances with hydrogen in mind, they should share many of the performance attributes with new hydrogen appliances but could be designed to facilitate a smooth switchover.”

“In principle, these could offer an attractive compromise between rolling out hydrogen only appliances and adapting current natural gas appliances which will both have huge challenges at the point of gas changeover.”

In supporting development of new hydrogen appliances, the report backed government intervention in the short to medium-term as a means to ensure sufficient progress in creatine a first generation of new appliances.

The report said, “However, it is important for the industry that there is progress on the fundamental technical areas highlighted as this will ultimately be needed to underpin hydrogen appliance development.”

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