Science

Hydrogen Power from Plastic Waste

Increasingly how to extract hydrogen from plastic waste which cannot be recycled is being looked at through various projects.

Image courtesy Basel Convention

Most recently a team of experts at The University of Manchester led by Dr Amir Keshmiri have received UK government funding to work with Powerhouse Energy Plc – a world-leading company specialising in treatment of unrecyclable wastes – to help recover hydrogen for clean energy use

In Scotland West Dunbartonshire Council approved plans in summer this year for a £20million facility which will use plastic waste to produce hydrogen. The plans were presented by Peel NRE – part of real estate business Peel L and P – for the site at Rothesay Dock on the north bank of the River Clyde.

Blue Hydrogen is produced from natural gas and uses carbon capture and storage.

Green Hydrogen is produced using surplus renewable energy.

Click on this link for: The Hydrogen Colour Spectrum

 Environment Minister in the Scottish Government Màiri McAllan is taking part in various events to promote Scotland’s hydrogen sector at COP27. She said:

“we remain committed to a focus on policies that promote renewable energy and emerging green technologies, including the development of green hydrogen.”

The draft of Scotland’s  revised National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) sets out sustainable policies against which planning applications would be assessed for the next decade.

It includes:

“supporting emerging low-carbon and zero emissions technologies – including hydrogen and carbon capture – and developments on land that unlock the transformative potential of offshore renewable energy, such as expansion of the electricity grid. Waste incineration facilities would be highly unlikely to receive permission”

The Manchester project  will develop and validate a novel and inexpensive game-changing hydrogen separation technique that builds upon Powerhouse Energy’s expertise in waste treatment and the international track-record of Dr Amir Keshmiri’s team in fluid dynamics and thermochemical analysis.

Dr Amir Keshmiri, Associate Professor in Computational Fluid Dynamics at The University of Manchester, said: 

“The collaboration allows the University to be at the forefront of high-impact, game-changing technology development within the emerging clean hydrogen energy sector – and allows the academic team to capitalise on the bespoke hydrogen models developed to a wider audience.”

It is hoped that the pioneering technique, once commercialised, will enable the faster rollout of inexpensive hydrogen.

Mr Paul Emmitt, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director at Powerhouse Energy (PHE), said:

“The invention has the potential to overcome a significant cost prohibitive factor for commercial hydrogen extraction from syngas [ie synthesis gas mix that includes  hydrogen which can be used as a fuel] not just for PHE, but all next generation advanced thermal technologies – and potentially allowing more facilities to be developed for the same available capital, enhancing production towards, and even beyond, the ambitious 5GW target.

“Quantifying the impact for PHE, the proposed hydrogen separation technique has the potential to reduce project costs by up to 17.5%.”

Scotland has a 5 year plan to develop hydrogen as an energy source using renewables. The five-year capital investment programme will focus on supporting regional renewable hydrogen production hubs and renewable hydrogen projects. The first tranche of investment will be a £10 million Hydrogen Innovation Fund.

The research into converting plastic waste which cannot be recycled is taking place around the world, including using the plastics removed from polluting the marine environment.

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