Newton Fund: Practical hydrogen fuelled vehicles for China

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Chemistry


The Chinese government have prioritised the need to decarbonise energy and address air quality problems through the use of hydrogen energy from renewables and into vehicles. This business led, 24 month project will investigate the practical challenges of developing mass market hydrogen fuelled vehicles for China, particularly looking at commercial vehicles, novel routes to "green" hydrogen production and relevant hydrogen storage approaches which will be purposefully designed to meet the specific market challenges in China. Led by UK SME ULEMCo Ltd, for the vehicle and fuelling infrastructure, with Wuhan New Energy Institute (WNEI) of Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) and Hubei Swan Coatings CO., LTD. to bring local Chinese market energy storage capability, the University of Liverpool (UoL) & HUST for a novel H2 production route, success in the project will lead to a clear road map for demonstration of significant carbon reduction and ultra-low air quality emissions for 1000s of vehicles in China, within the next 10 years.

Planned Impact

1. The project addresses the economic development & welfare of China through the development of low carbon energy for transport at the same time as addressing air quality issues.
This project will enable economic development through self-generated fuel from solar energy in the form of hydrogen that is used as a transport fuel. From a macro-economic perspective this provides economic resilience by decoupling growing energy requirements from the need to increase imported fossil fuels. Locally it provides opportunity for community energy, particularly areas not connected to the grid, such as rural areas and poor communities. Welfare is improved by enabling the reduction of transport related air pollutants from diesel such as particulates and NOx.
2. The People's Republic of China is listed on the DAC list as an Upper Middle Income Country with per capita GNI $4126- 12745 in 2013 and as such is eligible for ODA.
The rapid economic growth that has occurred in China, has primarily been based on capital & fixed asset investment which as ROI % stabilises will not in the long term be sustainable. Resource constraints, such as energy provision, are beginning to negatively impact development. Dealing with these constraints through technological innovation, for example like the activities to be delivered in this project, is therefore considered critical to ensure that China's economic growth continues. 3. The development need this project addresses is for a whole system approach to energy provision, from generation to storage and use. It provides system benefits that will deliver better use of renewable energy resources, lower capital investment costs, reduced air pollutants and better value propositions for alternative fuels in commercial vehicles than those currently being considered for China. Fuel Cell technology is seen as the long-term opportunity for H2 transport, particularly passenger cars, however they will not be widely commercial until after 2030 nor will they be cheap. Using H2 in combustion to displace diesel in this project provides a fairly immediate opportunity to implement emission reduction strategies using an affordable, practical approach most suited to commercial vehicle applications.
4. The evidence of the need for this project is based on the strategic priorities set out by the Chinese government in their energy strategy/policy and the recent ratification of COP 21 targets
The above recognises the ambition from China to achieve growth at the same time as delivering on their global responsibility for addressing climate change. However, they have policies in place to 2030 that will deliver the initial phases of the transformation; beyond this time it will become increasingly costly and hard to deliver the further into the decarbonisation process they progress. Practical hydrogen solutions present an opportunity for delivering 2030 targets and beyond, which fits well with the timescales of the outputs of the activities of this project.
5. Success in this project will lead to reduced costs for transformation to a decarbonised energy system at the same time as enabling growth, and improving the health of the citizens (particularly those in economically disadvantaged areas who suffer most from the impact of poor air quality). Ultimately it will address fuel poverty. The beneficiaries of this project would be local communities where they could make their own clean fuel. Specific success from the activities in this project would include a cheaper route to making H2 from renewables than through conventional electrolysis, a safer and cheaper way to store H2 than the current gaseous systems, and a H2 vehicle solution for commercial vehicles that is ultra-low emission. These would all be measured by the numbers of vehicles converted to H2, the numbers of refuelling stations, the % of displacement of diesel with H2, the proportion of H2 that is generated from renewables in China and the GVA generated by H2.


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Description We have develop a close working relationship with our industrial partners through regular engagement activities and are actively preparing polymers for photocatalytic testing in line with the research proposal.
Exploitation Route Too early to say but we are working closely with our industrial partners to maximise the impact of our findings to others.
Sectors Chemicals,Environment