Harvesting solar energy to produce renewable, carbon free and cost effective hydrogen as an alternative energy source is the focus of a new 4.2 million research programme at Imperial College London, it is announced.
The Colleges Energy Futures Lab receives the funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
The programme will develop both biological and chemical solar driven processes to develop renewable and cost effective methods of producing hydrogen which can be used to operate fuel cells. Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that can convert hydrogen to electricity and heat at a very high efficiency, with the only emissions being clean water.
Scientists believe that hydrogen could be an effective solution to reducing the worlds dependence on non-renewable carbon-producing fossil fuels because it is clean, portable and versatile. Professor Nigel Brandon, Principal Investigator on the project and Director of the Energy Futures Lab, says:
"The successful production of solar energy-driven renewable hydrogen could transform the supply of carbon free fuel and make an enormous impact on the viability of hydrogen as an energy carrier. In addition, it will be an essential step on the route to fully exploiting fuel cell technology. It will position the UK as a world leader in one of the very few solutions to a truly sustainable energy future."
Spanning five years, the project aims to significantly increase the efficiency of solar driven hydrogen production processes, integrating science and engineering to deliver a prototype reactor for domestic and industrial use. This will create a unique facility, which the team hopes will place Imperial College and the UK at the forefront of renewable hydrogen production, both for the UKs own future clean energy supply and also for the sustainable exploitation of hydrogen energy worldwide.