Groundbreaking hydrogen separation technique to recover clean energy from unrecyclable waste

Technology such as this will have a flagship spotlight at the ongoing COP27, climate summit.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Hydrogen produced from waste.jpg
Hydrogen produced from waste

University of Manchester  

A team of experts at The University of Manchester led by Dr. Amir Keshmiri is working on an innovation that could allow the efficient recovery of hydrogen from waste, according to a press release from the institution published on Wednesday.

The researchers have received government funding to work with Powerhouse Energy Plc - a UK company specializing in the treatment of unrecyclable wastes - to help recover hydrogen for clean energy use.

The new deal will see the development of an inexpensive groundbreaking hydrogen separation technique that builds upon Powerhouse Energy's expertise in waste treatment and the international track record of Keshmiri’s team in fluid dynamics and thermochemical analysis.

A breakthrough in advanced thermal treatment

The technology is being touted as a potential breakthrough in advanced thermal treatment to recover hydrogen from unrecyclable wastes. If successful, it could make a significant contribution to the UK’s net zero targets and reduce project costs compared to existing recovery methods.

In addition to being ”greener and cheaper”, this new technology would be an important asset to help secure UK energy security at a time of major crisis and uncertainty.  

Paul Emmitt, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director at Powerhouse Energy, said the project will allow his company to overcome significant cost barriers to delivering the next generation of cleaner energy technology. The pioneering technique, once commercialized, will promote the faster rollout of inexpensive hydrogen.

Groundbreaking hydrogen separation technique to recover clean energy from unrecyclable waste
The hydrogen is from unrecyclable waste.

Overcoming a significant cost-prohibitive factor

“The invention has the potential to overcome a significant cost-prohibitive factor for commercial hydrogen extraction from Syngas (ie synthesis gas), a hydrogen-based mixture that can be used as a fuel not just for Powerhouse Energy, but all next-generation advanced thermal technologies, potentially allowing more facilities to be developed for the same available capital, enhancing production towards and even beyond the ambitious 5GW target,” said Emmitt.

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“Quantifying the impact for PHE, the proposed hydrogen separation technique has the potential to reduce project costs by up to 17.5%, or over £400m for 59 facilities.”

The rapid development and commercialization of the invention will support the UK government's Low Carbon Hydrogen Strategy’s 5GW installed capacity target by 2030.

Once fully operational, the new project will effectively encourage the swifter adoption of local, cleaner, low-carbon energy - while addressing the growing issue of unrecyclable waste. It will achieve all this while working within the existing waste hierarchy framework.

Kashmiri further said that clean energy from hydrogen – dubbed ‘green hydrogen’ - will have a flagship spotlight at COP27, the climate change summit currently being hosted in Sharm el-Sheikh. “Production and storage of low-carbon hydrogen is one of the key themes of COP27 which is hosted by Egypt as part of the hydrogen transition summit,” he concluded.

The project was initially funded by the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account grant.

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