Metro Mayor opens green hydrogen production facility

22 February 2024

Co-funded by the Mayoral Combined Authority and Research England, the multi-million pound green hydrogen production plant is the first of its kind in the South West, as well as being an important national resource for the development and validation of hydrogen fuelled propulsion systems, a vital component in the UK’s clean energy transition.

IAAPS, a commercial subsidiary of the University of Bath, is a leader in propulsion R&I and has a track record of undertaking groundbreaking projects which have real world CO2-reduction impact. The green H2 manufacturing facility, which became operational at the end of December, produces hydrogen through electrolysis, using electricity generated from an array of solar panels on the building’s roof to break water into hydrogen and oxygen. This allows engineers at the centre to safely test new hydrogen technologies which, once fully matured and commercialised, have the potential to replace conventional fossil-fuel based propulsion systems across automotive, aerospace, marine and other hard-to-electrify sectors, constituting a significant step-change in the industry’s move to net zero.

The specialist plant will produce up to 10kg/hr of H2, and includes a low pressure storage tank to allow more flexibility to conduct research on heavy duty and aerospace fuel cell systems as well as H2 Internal Combustion Engines. Over the course of the year, typically 2000kg of green H2 will be produced, fully supplying the requirements of the centre and making it self-sufficient. Importantly, the green H2 plant helps to avoid the use of grey H2 (created from natural gas or methane), saving around 84% of the carbon dioxide emissions. The complete hydrogen infrastructure at IAAPS includes four state-of-the-art, fully H2 fuel compliant test cells, putting IAAPS at the forefront of research and experimental capabilities.

Furthermore, the new H2 facilities at IAAPS are also a key driver of collaboration with wider cross-regional initiatives and strategic partnerships that support the development of hydrogen technologies, such as the Western Gateway Hydrogen Ecosystem and Hydrogen South West.

Building on the hydrogen expertise and resources, IAAPS and the University of Bath are also spearheading a new consortium which aims to foster and accelerate the growth of the hydrogen economy cluster in the West of England. The Hydrogen & Sustainable Transport Economy Accelerator (HSTEA), also funded by the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority, is based at the IAAPS facility and is administered through enterprise partnership SETsquared. Since its launch in October last year, HSTEA has attracted 23 members, some of whom have already started to receive financial, mentoring and skills development support through the programme.

Green hydrogen is one really important solution to the world’s climate problems - it’s powerful and there’s lots of it. The potential when it comes to slashing emissions in those hard-to-decarbonise sectors like transport, and others, is huge,” says Metro Mayor Dan Norris. “It just goes to show how our West of England region really is becoming a zero-emission and innovation leader.”

"Green hydrogen represents a pivotal shift towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible energy landscape, offering immense potential as a clean alternative to traditional fossil fuels. At IAAPS, we recognise the transformative power of H2 technologies, in particular for the hard to electrify sectors of the mobility industry. Our new hydrogen production plant, in tandem with our cutting edge H2 research facilities, provides us and our partners with the tools that we need to accelerate this transition. It's not only a regional beacon, but also a national asset, crucial in driving forward sustainable R&I and actively addressing the challenges of climate change,” says Professor Chris Brace, Executive Director, IAAPS.

Starting from the left; Man holding ribbon, Metro Mayor Dan Norris cutting ribbon, Professor Chris Brace, Isabella Griffiths

22 February 2024