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Unlocking the hydrogen energy market competition winning projects

The winning project for the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) competition Unlocking the hydrogen energy market, that sought proposals in the autumn of last year, have recently been announced.

Five projects have been funded with a combined total of just under £2 million to support business-led innovation that leads to supply chain opportunities for hydrogen energy technologies and that addresses key market barriers to the use of hydrogen as an energy vector. 

The winning project featured proposals for quality assurance of hydrogen as a fuel; a proof-of-concept fuel cell powered unmanned aircraft for marine applications; a non-polluting replacement for diesel or petrol generators; thermoplastic composite vessels and pipes suitable for hydrogen; and a safety safety sensor unit for vehicle hydrogen tanks.


Project summaries

Quality control for the hydrogen supply chain


Cascade Technologies Limited (lead)

BOC Limited

NPL Management Limited

ITM Power (Trading) Limited

University of St Andrews

Cascade Technologies is leading a team that will develop a new tool for the quality assurance of hydrogen fuel.

The team will develop a laser gas analyser to measure the impurities in hydrogen fuels, that will best on-site at hydrogen production facilities and refueling stations (ITM Power and BOC), and verified by experts at NPL.

Fuel impurities can be damaging to internal combustion engines, which will also be the case for the fuel-cell vehicles of the future. This new laser based approach could mean real-time online chemical analysis of fuel impurities, at the pump, without the need for a scientist or laboratory.

• Proposed project costs - £983,946

• Proposed project grant - £602,252


Opening solid hydrogen storage markets through civil marine UAS


Cella Energy Limited (lead)

Arcola Energy Limited

The Scottish Association for Marine Science

Hydrogen use as a fuel is held back by the limitations and the high cost of storage, and of fuel cells. This project aims to overcome barriers to market entry by proving a profitable early market application in small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) designed for marine research, with the benefit of extended range and payload compared to lithium batteries.

A consortium led by Cella Energy are working to demonstrate an aircraft with novel solid-state hydrogen storage integrated with lightweight fuel cells as a proof-of-concept for a marine UAS weighing less than 7 kg.

Small UAS can be used for agriculture and public safety on land; marine and climate research, and energy monitoring offshore, while operating with less restrictive aviation regulation. Civilian UAS could be an early-adopter of highly energy dense, green power solutions like hydrogen, in advance of new low- carbon fuel for road vehicles.

• Proposed project costs - £451,860

• Proposed project grant - £320,149


Innovation in services for off-grid hydrogen energy


Commercial Limited (lead)

Arcola Energy Limited

BOC Limited

This project aims to produce a convenient, low-cost and low carbon energy service to customers who need power in remote situations, such as construction sites, environmental monitoring or transport equipment.

The service will use hydrogen as a fuel and fuel cells as the power source, optimised to match the power requirements of modern low energy equipment and lighting. This energy service will aim to replace conventional, noisy, polluting and inefficient diesel or petrol generators.

• Proposed project costs - £231,539

• Proposed project grant - £133,987


Hydrogen - Optimisation of Storage and Transfer (HOST)


EPL Composite Solutions Limited (lead)

Crompton Mouldings Limited

Element Materials Technology Hitchin Limited

Jonam Composites Limited

JRE Precision Limited

The aim of the Hydrogen - Optimisation of Storage and Transfer project is to design, develop and manufacture thermoplastic composite vessels and pipes for hydrogen storage and transfer applications at pressures up to 700 bar. Such products will be fully recyclable, impact resistant and durable. A key objective is to produce products at economically acceptable levels in order to drive forward hydrogen for all energy sectors.

• Proposed project costs - £998,754

• Proposed project grant - £578,850


Continuous Monitoring system for fuel tank SAFEty assurance on Hydrogen powered Vehicles (COMSAFE HV)


R-Tech Services Limited

Arcola Energy Limited

TWI Limited

• Pancom Limited

A continuous monitoring safety assurance sensor unit for vehicle Hydrogen tanks, which stores a record that can be read during routine vehicle services, is proposed. This will greatly reduce failure probabilities, through early detection of H embrittlement (HE), fatigue defects and diffusion leakage. Other main project suggested innovations include the use of passive acoustic emission (AE) sensing to keep system costs at a small fraction of the cost of a vehicle Hydrogen fuel tank.

• Proposed project costs - £476,842

• Proposed project grant - £301,988

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