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£300K BEIS grant win for waste-to-hydrogen fuel pioneers

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A gasification pioneer aims to seal the UK’s low-carbon future after winning a government grant worth nearly £300,000 to develop waste-to-hydrogen production technology, innovation funding specialist Catax can reveal. 

Compact Syngas Solutions (CSS), based in Deeside, Wales, has secured £299,886 from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with the help of Catax. The funding comes from the Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply 2 Programme, which is part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. 

CSS and its three project partners will now forge ahead with a bid to make clean, green low-emission hydrogen fuel a reality for the vehicles on our roads using waste that would normally be sent to landfill. 

If successful, their technological leap will form a major part of the government’s bid to reach net-zero by 2050, as the only exhaust emissions from hydrogen-fuelled vehicles are warm air and water. CSS are also in the process of developing carbon capture technology for the gasification process to reduce emissions even further.  

The project aims to demonstrate that low-carbon hydrogen can be produced economically and efficiently. The hydrogen produced by the modular unit being developed could also be used by power plants in areas detached from mainstream energy grids. 

CSS is being supported on the project by: 

  • Q-Technologies, a mass spectrometry and sensor specialist based in Liverpool 

  • Pure Energy Centre (PEC), an engineering company specialising in renewables and hydrogen technologies based in Unst, Shetland 



  • ASH Group, headquartered in Oswestry, Shropshire 


The solution they have devised will create hydrogen using what’s known as Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) — in other words, biomass waste diverted from landfill by waste management companies with the aim of utilising Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) in the future.  

The project will be led by CSS managing director Paul Willacy, who has worked in the gasification sector for over 20 years, having previously occupied R&D roles in the oil & gas industry. Hydrogen production worldwide currently relies largely on fossil fuel-based Steam-Methane-Reformation (SMR) of natural gas. CSS’s technology will be smaller scale, greener and will produce cleaner hydrogen. 

ASH has a long and innovative track record in waste management, SRF screening and briquetting. It will be testing and selecting the most appropriate waste streams and preparing it for gasification trials. PEC, which have been developing and designing, manufacturing and installing hydrogen infrastructure for the last 16 years will be developing the hydrogen storage capability and assisting ASH in the identification of technologies to enable the crossover of their trucks from diesel to hydrogen fuel. Q-Technologies will be providing mass spectrometry and sensor expertise as well as an advanced AI energy control management system. 

If this initial phase is successful, it will open the possibility of an additional £6m of BEIS funding to allow the team to build a full-scale, state-of-the-art solution of the kind that doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. This facility would be capable of producing 35kg of hydrogen per hour - enough to fill around 20 large vehicles per day.  

There are currently no UK facilities producing hydrogen from SRF despite the existence of approximately 1,150 waste management companies across the UK, a significant number of which could contribute to the hydrogen fuel supply chain.  

The government has set a target for the UK to reach 10GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. Here in the UK, BEIS analysis suggests 250-460TWh of hydrogen could be needed by 2050, representing up to 35% of final energy consumption. The UK currently produces only 27TWh of hydrogen per year and only 11 UK fuel stations offer it.  

The Hydrogen Roadmap Europe predicts that over 45,000 trucks and buses could be using hydrogen by 2030 and they would need to be served by 3,700 large refuelling stations. 

Paul Willacy, managing director of Compact Syngas Solutions (CSS), said: “The world must transition to low-carbon solutions to combat climate change but pure electric vehicles are unlikely to provide the whole answer. Hydrogen, as a fuel with zero emissions, is an equally promising option for the world as it navigates itself towards a net-zero future. This grant is an important first step in making sure hydrogen technology becomes commercially viable soon enough to make a significant contribution in the battle for net-zero.” 

Karen Taylor, group head of grants at innovation funding specialist Catax, said: “This is one of the most exciting grant applications we’ve ever worked on because of where this technology could take us as a global society. CSS and their partners have every chance of putting the UK at the forefront of hydrogen fuel innovation and that’s going to be an incredible win for the UK and the world environment. This is how nascent technologies enter the mainstream, and the project’s low-carbon credentials make it a top priority for government.” 

Professor Steve Taylor, managing director of Q-Technologies and professor of electromagnetics and physical electronics at the University of Liverpool, commented: "It’s rare to find an R&D project that ticks as many boxes as this one, all at the same time: production of a zero-emission hydrogen energy source for transport through recycling of waste. An aspect that particularly excites me is the potential benefit this technology could have in developing countries and economies worldwide as a local source of electrical power. If this project is successful, this will be a big win for UK companies, for the environment and also for the developing world.” 

Elizabeth Johnson MBE, business development manager at Pure Energy Centre (PEC), commented: “Having designed and manufactured hydrogen infrastructure for many years, PEC are delighted to be part of this BEIS funded project developing a waste-to-hydrogen system for fuelling vehicles. This project has the potential to reduce waste going to landfill and at the same time contribute to the Government’s net-zero targets. Low-carbon hydrogen production will address many issues including rising fuel costs, reduction of CO2 emissions, reducing landfill and, at the same time, providing modular units for areas not connected to mainstream energy grids.” 

Neil Hassall, ASH Group MD and R&D project director at ASH Waste Services, commented: “ASH Group has a proud record of early adoption of viable innovative technologies designed to recover and re-use scarce resources from the various wastes our Group handles. From Bio-Mass and large-scale RDF fuels processing for heat and power production, to solar power generation and storage, ASH Group is committed to developing a range of alternative energy sources from waste and alternate resources. The move to screen, process and develop wastes into yet more viable alternate uses is a logical step for our Group, especially given the increasing demands of energy shortages, costs and sustainability. Hydrogen generation from waste is viewed by ASH as a progressive, challenging and necessary addition to the energy sources needed not just in the UK, but around Europe and the world.”