26 - fact sheet

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Hydrogen's role in reducing greenhouse gases
Hydrogen is probably the leading alternative fuel for cars, aircraft and domestic heat and power in the 21st century. Unlike fossil fuels, hydrogen does not exist naturally in large quantities on Earth and must be made from other fuels. It can be chemically separated from hydrocarbons using a device called a reformer (at which stage the carbon dioxide can be collected for sequestration), manufactured biologically via photosynthesis or fermentation, or by the electrolysis of water. If the electricity for electrolysis is derived from renewable sources, greenhouse gas emissions are truly zero, as water is the only combustion by-product. However, although hydrogen is used as a fuel in a small number of demonstration projects, further technological advances and political changes are required before the UK's infrastructure could support a large-scale hydrogen energy economy. Dr Geoff Dutton, from the CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory's Energy Research Unit and the Tyndall Centre, is leading a project to map out the stages required for a national energy infrastructure based on hydrogen produced from renewable sources. The first phase of the project involves a series of seminars to discuss the technologies, outline the policies required to facilitate the transition to a hydrogen energy economy, and identify possible environmental impacts of large-scale hydrogen energy use. The second phase of the project will define the stepping-stones required to achieve the long-term goal of 100% hydrogen energy use. The project will result in an assessment of the long-term viability of the hydrogen energy economy as a way of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The results will be available to the wider energy research community, and also benefit other Tyndall Centre research projects, such as an investigation of how new and renewable energy sources can be integrated into the UK energy system.

Hydrogen fuel is already used in a small number of demonstration projects, but the costs of producing and storing hydrogen prevent it being used more widely. A Tyndall Centre project is looking at the costs, benefits and impacts of a hydrogen energy economy, and how it can be introduced to the UK. More information Contact the lead investigator of Project IT1.26 (The hydrogen energy economy: its long-term role in greenhouse gas reduction): Dr Jim Halliday Energy Research Unit, CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Chilton, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0QX, UK Phone: +44 (0) 1235 44 5559; Fax: +44 (0) 1235 44 6863 Email: Other researchers involved in this project are: Dr Geoff Dutton, Energy Resarch Unit, CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Dr Jim Watson and Dr Frans Berkhout, SPRU, University of Sussex Professor Chris Nash and Dr Abigail Bristow, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds Project duration: October 2001 to October 2003 Useful web sites: The Tyndall Centre: The Energy Research Unit at RAL: The UK Hydrogen Energy Network: Latest developments in hydrogen energy:

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IT1.26 - fact sheet

U.S. Department of Energy Hydrogen Information Network:

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