New project to help solve energy poverty for isolated communities in Africa through cooking fuel solution

Image of H2 in the shape of clouds over trees

A team at Loughborough University will lead on developing a battolyser – a combined battery/electrolyser - to produce a new source of clean, reliable, and sustainable energy storage for off-grid communities in Africa.

Lizzie Ashton
Dr Lizzie Ashton, Research Associate in Chemistry Department

Loughborough University’s Professor Dani Strickland, an expert in electrical powering engineering, Dr Jonathan Wilson, a manufacturing expert, and Dr Lizzie Ashton, a chemistry expert are leading the project. 

Awarded through Horizon Europe, this collaborative, four-year project called LoCEL-H2, (or ‘Low-cost, circular, plug and play, off-grid energy for remote locations - including hydrogen), combines the expertise of lead battery manufacturers, academics, national laboratories, component manufacturers, and companies who are focused on integration, microgrids and renewables.

LoCEL-H2 aims to generate renewable energy, storage, and fuel for deployment in isolated and remote regions of Africa to support communities that cannot connect to an electricity grid.

The lead acid battolyser was invented at Loughborough University to produce low-cost green hydrogen using solar panels and this project looks to scale-up the design - taking it from a small laboratory prototype to a useable system.

The project will also develop a battery-powered microgrid and this will be used in combination with Dr Strickland’s battolyser to allow communities to access and store renewable energy.

LoCEL-H2 will conclude by piloting the innovative energy solution in remote regions of Zambia and Ivory Coast.

Professor Strickland commented: “Designing and scaling up a battolyser that can produce hydrogen for clean cooking will remove the requirement to burn charcoal. This will help with carbon reduction and has additional health benefits.

“This project is unique because it brings together the benefits of different energy storage types, renewable energy sources, reduced carbon emissions and access to clean energy in off-grid communities.

“The team at Loughborough is delighted to be part of this prestigious project and is looking forward to deploying the technology in the field in both Ivory Coast and Zambia.

“We hope to take the battolyser technology from laboratory protype through to a cost-effective product with real world application.”

“The excitement around this innovative project is reflected by everyone involved,” said Dr Carl Telford, the senior research and innovation manager at the Consortium for Battery Innovation.

“Energy poverty is a problem that affects millions of people worldwide because they lack consistent access to electricity.”

For more information on the project, watch the LoCEL-H2 Kick-off video or visit the dedicated website.