Hydrogen Heating: The Future of Gas?

Could hydrogen eclipse natural gas for our fires and central heating?

Hydrogen Bottles image by Jackthumm (via Shutterstock).
That’s the beauty of… hydrogen gas. A successor to natural gas? Image by Jackthumm (via Shutterstock).

Some of us remember the days when ‘town gas’ was replaced by high speed gas: the natural gas we know today. The original town gas was derived from coal, whereas natural gas is methane based. Both coal gas and methane gas are carbon based. Hydrogen gas, isn’t carbon based, making for a more environmentally friendly fuel. Could we be seeing it in our homes?

At the moment, hydrogen gas is used in a small number of appliances. It is an alternative to propane for camping stoves. For chefs, hydrogen based gas cooking doesn’t cause dehydration. At present, it isn’t a standard issue fuel for homeowners yet.

In the next decade, things could change. On the 21 June, the UK Government announced a £35 million funding package for two clean energy projects. £10 million has been allocated for the second phase of work by the Energy Systems Catapult on a Smart Systems and Heat Programme.

The remaining £25 million will go towards kickstarting a consumer-led hydrogen revolution. This, by means of a “range of hydrogen appliances such as boilers and cookers”. In other words, a new alternative for the kitchen to gas, halogen, and electric hobs. In future years, heating systems could follow suit.

The new generation of carbon-free gas appliances may use solar powered electrolysis. Large electrolysers would produce hydrogen by means of renewable electricity sources. For example: solar panels. It is envisaged that the non-carbon based fuel would be distributed via pipes (like natural gas), metal hydride tanks, or gas canisters.

ST Maintenance Solutions, 07 July 2017.

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