£4.4m waste-to-hydrogen funding will deliver real-world testing of technological innovation

Sustainable energy solutions company KEW Technology has secured over £4.4m of funding to take its successful research into waste-to-hydrogen technology solutions into ‘real-world’ demonstration at its Sustainable Energy Centre facility in the West Midlands, UK.

DESNZ phase II funding awarded to KEW Technology to demonstrate fuel-cell vehicle grade hydrogen production at commercial scale

The award, from the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero’s Hydrogen BECCS (Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage) Innovation Programme, will see the retrofit of KEW’s existing advanced gasification plant with a new add-on technology solution to separate hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

The best solution

Following KEW’s analysis and conclusions from Phase l of the programme (report available here), which saw it explore five technology options for separation, Pressurised Water Absorption (PWA) was chosen as the best low-carbon, efficient solution to produce high-purity hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles.

At its simplest, PWA is like a soda machine that adds CO2 to water from a pressurised cylinder to create carbonated water. Under pressure, CO2 is absorbed into the liquid, but the H2 is not, and separation is achieved. As soon as the pressure of the CO2 rich liquid is reduced, the CO2 is released and can be captured.

Kevin Chown, COO of KEW Technology Ltd, said: “In partnership with Aston University we assessed Amine, Carbonate, PWA, Cryo with PSA and Cryo with membrane package against key criteria including cost, energy requirements and hydrogen purity and efficiency.

“PWA was chosen as the best solution to take forward for its greater energy efficiency compared to available technology on the market. Others need thermal energy and combustion of a substantial proportion of the energy produced unless a waste heat source is locally available.

“With PWA systems utilising only water (retained and recycled) not continuous consumption, it offers lower environmental impact and risk than the use of chemical solvents.”

KEW’s technological solution H2 BECCS only uses end of life waste or low-grade biomass as the feedstock to produce syngas and subsequently hydrogen.

An independent assessment of its greenhouse gas emissions has overall capture savings of over 25,000 tonnes a year of CO2 module producing over 1,000 tonnes a year of transport-grade hydrogen at fuel cell vehicle purity of 99.7% per the ISO standard.

Accelerating delivery of a cost-effective hydrogen supply

Kevin added: “We’re thrilled to have been awarded further funding and strongly believe that the proposed solution with its innovative separation technology that reduces energy consumption and avoids the use of chemicals will achieve very effective energy performances. This will significantly improve the cost-effectiveness of producing hydrogen from non-recyclable wastes or biomass.

“The ability to test technological innovation in a proven ‘real-world’ production facility is unique. And this funding will significantly help accelerate the commercialisation and technology readiness level of this emerging technology on the way to cost effective hydrogen supply from H2 BECCS systems.”

Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero Graham Stuart, commented: “Whether it’s the first meal of the day or a night cap, the great manufacturers of our country are striving to cut their carbon emissions and their energy bills – and in turn, support our efforts to boost our energy security.

“Our investment of over £80 million will help them to go further and faster, using the latest science, technologies, and new energy sources to cut ties with fossil fuels and futureproof their industries.”

For the past 10 years KEW has designed, developed and tested at commercial scale its high-pressure advanced gasification process at its Sustainable Energy Centre (SEC). This flagship facility converts biomass and biomass-rich waste streams into clean, tar-free, hydrogen-rich synthetic syngas and is critical in showcasing commercial-scale waste-to-molecules and CCUS solutions before making them available to the market.