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Cranfield University awarded funding to research clean hydrogen generation from biomass

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Funding for researchers at Cranfield University to look at new ways to generate hydrogen energy from biomass has been announced by the UK government.

The technology would allow biomass – organic products such as wood, grasses or used brewery hops - to be used to generate hydrogen while capturing CO2 emissions at the same time.

Rather than being burned, the biomass undergoes a process to turn it into a gas. The gas is then broken down into hydrogen and CO2, and a sorbent – a material used to absorb liquids or gases - is then used to capture the CO2.

The Project, which is called Bio-HyPER, is a collaboration between Cranfield University, Helical Energy, Bioenergy Infrastructure Group, Gas Technology Institute, Petrofac and Origen Power.

The funding was announced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) as part of its Hydrogen BECCS (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) Innovation Programme.

The £250,000 funding for the Bio-HyPER project will allow Cranfield researchers to carry out a feasibility study looking at integrating biomass fuel into the HyPER pilot plant, which is currently under construction on campus.

Dr Peter Clough, senior lecturer in Energy Engineering, said hydrogen and low carbon fuel research was a key strength of Cranfield and added:

“This internationally collaborative project will place a strong emphasis on demonstrating the greatest CO2 capture rates to support the UK’s Net-Zero goal.

“This emerging technology offers the potential to achieve negative-carbon hydrogen whilst also providing a useful heat output.”

Cranfield is also involved in various other projects awarded BEIS funding. One of these is led by Helical Energy and seeks to use disruptive technology processing other organic or natural fuels by gasification at high pressures and temperatures. An additional project led by the University of Aberdeen aims to develop an innovative and sustainable process to obtain hydrogen from the organic matter present in many types of waste.

Sustainability is a core theme for Cranfield and is present throughout much of the university’s research. This includes everything from water to aerospace, agrifood to transport, design to energy, and manufacturing to the environment.