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£100,000 grant for firm’s gas research

Delighted: Dr Graham Cooley, chief executive of ITM Power.

Delighted: Dr Graham Cooley, chief executive of ITM Power.

Energy storage and clean fuel company ITM Power is launching a pioneering research programme to see if it can produce synthetic natural gas economically using hydrogen and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Sheffield-based ITM has won a £100,000 grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Carbon Capture and Storage Innovation competition.

It plans to use the cash to investigate the technological, financial and operational feasibility of combining hydrogen and CO2 in a process known as “methanation.”

The hydrogen would be produced by ITM’s patented electrolyser technology which uses renewable energy such as wind power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Meanwhile, the CO2 would come from industrial processes or Carbon Capture and Storage sites, where CO2 from fossil fuel power stations is stored in geological features underground.

ITM’s chief executive Dr Graham Cooley said: “ITM Power is delighted to be leading this DECC funded feasibility study that will assess how hydrogen produced using renewable energy can be combined with carbon dioxide to produce methane as a direct substitute for natural gas.

“We look forward to working with our industry partners in what could be another key large market for ITM Power’s electrolyser products”

ITM is leading a consortium that includes utilities group SSE, Scotia Gas Networks, Logan Energy and energy management and low carbon consultancy Kiwa Gastec.

Hydrogen can be used on its own as a fuel and ITM has developed mobile refuelling stations which can be used to refuel cars and commercial vehicles converted to run on the gas.

ITM has also been investigating injecting hydrogen directly into the gas mains, but the lack of an established infrastructure for using pure hydrogen as a fuel has, in some eyes, slowed its adoption, even though it could be an ideal way of storing energy generated by wind turbines and the like.

Scientists have argued that methane, or a mixture of hydrogen and methane, called hydromethane, is already widely used and could be adopted as an alternative in the short to medium term until pure hydrogen gains wider acceptance.

Producing synthetic methane could also make significant contributions to reducing the cost of Carbon Capture and Storage by creating a saleable product from the CO2.

 

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