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21 June 2005 PR 05/57

Paving the way for a more sustainable future

Loughborough University researchers have been awarded £1.3 million to help investigate how hydrogen gas can be used to provide sustainable power for Europe.

Staff in the Department of Chemical Engineering are using their expertise in the area of safety and loss prevention to lead part of the Naturalhy study - a major European Commission funded integrated project.

The objectives of the reseach are to examine all the aspects of a pipeline system for the movement of hydrogen by adding it to natural gas in existing networks. This approach will facilitate a transition to the hydrogen-based economy to commence in earnest.

The use of hydrogen as an energy carrier is considered to be an essential element for global sustainable development. However, there are many significant challenges for implementing all the components of a complete energy system based on hydrogen.

A European consortium of 39 partners, including 15 from the gas industry, has been assembled to work on this challenging project. The consortium features major network operators, hydrogen producers, specialist practitioners and academic researchers in all the relevant fields.

The role of Loughborough University is to lead the safety area of the study. Researchers from the department are undertaking large-scale experimental work on gas dispersion, fires and explosions involving accidental release of hydrogen and natural gas mixtures. By modelling the consequences of releases and the effect of hydrogen on the probability of such accidental releases, the change in risk that would arise from use of the natural gas infrastructure for handling hydrogen or natural gas mixtures will be assessed.

Professor Geoff Hankinson, from the Department of Chemical Engineering, is leading Loughborough’s involvement in the project. He said: “This is an exciting and challenging project which we are pleased to be a part of. We are glad that the expertise of the department in the field of safety and loss prevention have been recognised and will play a key part in this research.”

The Naturalhy project is due to finish in 2009.

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Notes to editors
Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place Loughborough in the top flight of UK universities, and industry highlights Loughborough in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 45% of the University’s income is for research. The University has been awarded four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; and for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development.

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