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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number NIA_NGGD0085
Title BioH2 Project: Production of hydrogen by the gasification of waste
Status Completed
Energy Categories Hydrogen and Fuel Cells(Hydrogen, Hydrogen production) 50%;
Renewable Energy Sources(Bio-Energy, Production of transport biofuels (incl. Production from wastes)) 25%;
Fossil Fuels: Oil Gas and Coal(CO2 Capture and Storage, CO2 capture/separation) 25%;
Research Types Applied Research and Development 100%
Science and Technology Fields ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Chemical Engineering) 100%
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Project Contact
No email address given
Cadent Gas
Award Type Network Innovation Allowance
Funding Source Ofgem
Start Date 01 October 2016
End Date 01 June 2017
Duration 8 months
Total Grant Value £519,437
Industrial Sectors Technical Consultancy
Region London
Programme Network Innovation Allowance
Investigators Principal Investigator Project Contact , Cadent Gas (99.998%)
  Other Investigator Project Contact , Progressive Energy Ltd (0.001%)
Project Contact , Advanced Plasma Power Ltd (0.001%)
Web Site http://www.smarternetworks.org/project/NIA_NGGD0085

The work on each task will accomplish the following:

1) Definition of functional requirements for hydrogen production facilities

a.  Definition of commercial applications for hydrogen

  1. As a blend in the network

  2. For use in transport

  3. As a feedstock in the chemicals industry, e. g.  ammonia production.

b.  Resulting in a functional specification for each requirement:

  1. Hydrogen purity requirements

  2. Allowable contaminants

  3. CO2 purity requirements

  4. Project scale and operational requirements

2) Piloting of Hydrogen Production

  1. Offline testing of hydrogen production using the BioSNG offline rig

  2. Modification of the BioSNG demonstration plant for Hydrogen production

  3. Physical demonstration of production of hydrogen production using this facility

  4. Optimisation of the existing PSA for hydrogen and CO2 separation

3) Commercial Plant definition and evaluation

  1. Development of optimised Hydrogen production flow scheme

    1. Selection of optimal CO2 separation technique

    2. Hydrogen compression

    3. Heat integration

    4. Start-up requirements and turndown capabilities

    5. Potential for and value of co-production of methane

  2. Energy and Mass Balance

  3. GHG assessmentd.  Commercial assessment to give £/MWhr and evaluate against alternative hydrogen production routes

4) Definition of a hydrogen demonstration project

  1. Evaluating Hydrogen demonstration opportunities in the UK

  2. Definition of a demonstration project linked to end users

5) Project management In achieving the objectives outlined above, the project will have addressed the barriers to hydrogen production by gasification of waste in a robust and cost-effective way, and laid the groundwork for future demonstration and commercial facilities. 

The project is also expected to show that this approach is a cost-effective route to bio-hydrogen, and to demonstrate the ability to capture carbon dioxide as part of the process.

Key indicators of a successful project will be:

Demonstration of hydrogen production from waste and CO2-separation using a modified form of the BioSNG Demonstration plant.  This not only provides technical demonstration, but an important communication method about feasibility of hyd rogen production from waste.

Preliminary definition of commercial facility, including robust understanding of economic and environmental benefitsIdentification of partners, investors and site for larger-scale demonstration

A large driver for conducting the study at this point in time is the availability of the BioSNG Demonstration plant, which enables demonstration of hydrogen production from waste at remarkably low cost. 

Delivering the programme on budget will be important, in order to obtain maximum benefit from this opportunity leveraging the £5M BioSNG Demonstration plant with a small additional programme, exploiting the existing equipment and mobilised team. 

This project unlocks one of the key issues associated with the role out of hydrogen; how to deliver material quantities of low cost and low carbon hydrogen.


Hydrogen is seen by many as a key element of the UK’s future green energy mix.  More than one project is currently working to move hydrogen use forward:  H21 in Leeds is researching the feasibility of converting the 7 bar and below gas network to pure hydrogen, and the HyDeploy project will trial use of up to 20% hydrogen mixed with natural gas in the gas networks. An outstanding question is where the hydrogen comes from.  It has been suggested that excess renewable power generation is used to produce hydrogen via electrolysis, but it is not immediately obvious how this would work commercially.  Similarly, production of hydrogen from natural gas entails substantial additional financial and carbon costs from the conversion process, and relies entirely on establishment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) infrastructure to deliver low carbon hydrogen.  Production of hydrogen from biomass rich waste delivers low carbon and low cost hydrogen without CCS, and as shown in National Grid’s 2015 Future Energy Scenarios report, the production of hydrogen using biomass gasification with CCS delivers the negative emissions necessary to offset emissions from sectors that cannot decarbonise.

National Grid, Advanced Plasma Power and Progressive Energy are currently engaged in a NIC-funded project ("BioSNG Demonstration Plant") which takes municipal waste and waste wood, gasifies it and uses the resultant syngas to produce methane.  Inherent to this process are both the shifting of syngas to increase hydrogen content prior to methanation, and the separation of CO2, providing an obvious route to hydrogen production and CO2 capture.  Reconfiguring this technology to produce hydrogen rather than SNG would represent a simplification of the process, because no methanation would be necessary.  In addition, because methanation catalysts are the most sensitive to impurities, the clean-up requirements for the syngas would be less stringent for hydrogen production.

This approach offers the prospect of hydrogen production at parity with the cost of natural gas, and with the potential of negative carbon emissions where the separated CO2 displaces fossil fuel derived CO2 or it is sequestered Before this waste-to-hydrogen approach can be deployed commercially, several barriers must be overcome. 

Firstly, the commercial applications must be sufficiently well understood that a functional specification for hydrogen production can be produced. 

Secondly, the feasibility of hydrogen production from waste derived feedstock must be demonstrated to show that the concept is credible. 

Thirdly, the process must be optimised for commercial deployment, with designs produced, environmental impact understood and costs modelled. 

Fourthly, the chosen designs must be demonstrated at larger scale, with hydrogen supplied to end users. 

This project will seekto pushforward commercial deployment of hydrogen production from waste by systematically addressing each barrier.

Note : Project Documents may be available via the ENA Smarter Networks Portal using the Website link above

Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 09/08/18