Whilst electric battery vehicles hold the next generation headlines for many, Kiwa believe that low-carbon hydrogen vehicles also offer a complementary and more significant potential for the UK, especially when considering the ability to rapidly reduce our national carbon footprint, aligned with an existing infrastructure to deliver.
The difference of hydrogen to battery life is clear. Hydrogen has an energy storage capability of 39kWh/kg compared to a Lithium battery of up to 0.4kWh/kg - a hundredfold difference. Advanced material fuel tanks are reducing cylinder weight and volume. The safety of on-board, high-pressure gas storage is demonstrated by the 23million CNG vehicles worldwide in 2016. When accidents do happen, any leak is almost always from the very low-pressure connection to the engine. Furthermore, it is difficult to envisage the installation and operation of millions of electric charging points down every street, for example in London or other big cities to realise an electric future, especially given the high costs of transmission infrastructure.
Kiwa Ltd posits that the use of hydrogen within next generation vehicles from an existing UK infrastructure perspective; from a re-purposed natural gas grid, can make a significant contribution to decarbonising both heat and transport. Kiwa Ltd were one of, if not the first organisation in the UK to promote such a re-purposing of the UK gas infrastructure. This led to trials on the comparative safety of hydrogen and
natural gas in the home followed by the famous Leeds H21 study which looked at converting the whole of the City of Leeds to hydrogen. This would require all new combi boilers, gas cookers and gas fires, but such a conversion has been done before in the 1970s from Town Gas to Natural Gas. The number of appliances today is very similar to those converted previously. Costs are substantial but less than other
options currently suggested. Conversion of Leeds (~260,000 meter points) with hydrogen produced at Teesside by the removal of the carbon atom from natural gas (the SMR process) and burial of the resulting carbon
dioxide in the North Sea (termed CCS) would cost about £2bn. It would achieve ~75% carbon reduction. This compares favourably with Hinkley Point C at £18bn. Hydrogen refuelling stations could be fed by simple gas mains (at 4bar) running from re-purposed gas grids. While it is appreciated that the hydrogen would need to be cleaned up to fuel cell grade, and compressed to vehicle pressure, such a conversion is considered
relatively routine and is the topic of ongoing work.
The great advantage of the bulk hydrogen route for the UK through the existing gas infrastructure is its ability to de-carbonise heat, process and transport using one easily storable vector. Several hundred
tonnes of hydrogen have been stored under Teesside since the 1970's and new hydrogen storage caverns are regularly washed out in Texas. All of the technology has been demonstrated previously, is proven and
can be scaled.
About 50 million tonnes of hydrogen is produced around the world each year, mostly from SMR, and there are a further 20 CCS plants operational. The UK Government has just announced a £25m project to
develop a range of UK hydrogen fired boilers, cookers and fires. The gas industry is investing £15m in hydrogen safety and Government has earmarked a further £23m for hydrogen vehicles – hydrogen can provide many answers to the short, medium and long-term challenges presented in widescale decarbonisation.
Kiwa Ltd is an expert in Hydrogen and at the forefront of all these developments. The UK is supported by the wider Kiwa group of 4,500 employees worldwide in 40 countries, including a large hydrogen vehicle component test facility in the Netherlands, which acts as a technical office for European vehicle certification authorities. The laboratories can test and certify hydrogen tanks and vehicle components to EC79:2009, GTR No. 13, and ECE 134 along with hydrogen fuel cells to the full EN 62282 suite of standards. We also provide vehicle pre-shipment inspections, offer advice on hydrogen vehicle garaging and safety inspections of HRS installations.
A Notified Body under the Gas Appliance Regulations, Kiwa has extensive experience of hydrogen appliance inspection, field trials, consultancy and thought leadership in the practical and safe application of hydrogen. It has advised BEIS and the Climate Change Committee on the national use of hydrogen. It is a Notified Body under the EUETS. It is currently advising all the UK gas distribution networks on the potential demand for hydrogen in the 10 largest cities in the UK. Kiwa Ltd can provide a service for all parts of the hydrogen supply chain from SMR to sofa, and electrolyser to wheel.
Please call – we would welcome the conversation to make the conversion.
Contact Kiwa: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 01242 677877
Mark Crowther (Technical Director) or Michael Burford (Business Development)