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New project aims to unlock untapped potential of ocean renewable energy fuels

Monday, 19 July 2021

Nottingham researchers have been awarded nearly £2m as part of a major project to investigate the potential to harness offshore wind and marine renewable energy for conversion to hydrogen and zero carbon fuels.

Ocean-REFuel is a five-year project led by the University of Strathclyde, which also involves the Universities of Nottingham and Cardiff, Newcastle University and Imperial College London.

Professor Gavin Walker, along with co-investigators Dr Robin Irons, Professor David Grant and Dr Jon Mckechnie — all from Nottingham’s Faculty of Engineering — will consider a whole-energy system to maximise ocean renewable energy.

The team was awarded £1.7m by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to specifically investigate low pressure solutions to store hydrogen in much smaller volumes safely using solid state storage. Also, to maximise hydrogen system efficiency by developing low energy solid state compressors, when you do require high pressures, rather than energy hungry mechanical compressors. They will also implement a techno-economic assessment of proposed solutions, assessment of the circular economy for the new technologies and the integration and potential impact of ocean net-zero fuels on the existing gas infrastructure.

The project has transformative ambition in addressing a number of big questions concerning the UK’s net-zero energy future. As the UK rapidly expands its offshore renewable capacity, what role does offshore hydrogen play in alleviating the intermittency of ocean renewable energy and how versatile energy vectors such as hydrogen and ammonia can enable the use of ocean renewable energy to decarbonise the heat, industrial and transport sectors.
Professor Gavin Walker, Nottingham lead

Project lead Professor Feargal Brennan from the University of Strathclyde, said: “The Ocean-REFuel project has come at precisely the right time to build on the successes of offshore wind and has the potential to create a step-change in how we consider our whole energy system. The challenges are immense, and we are acutely aware of the importance of getting this right, given the backdrop of the climate emergency and the global consequences unless step changes can be achieved.”

Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “The waters around the UK offer abundant prospects for clean energy. Ensuring that we can tap the full potential of our natural resources will be vital in meeting our bold climate change commitments.

“As shown through our world-leading offshore wind sector, we are not only capitalising on the clean energy potential around our coastline but also the opportunities for investment, jobs creation and regional growth. Projects like Ocean-REFuel are helping us fulfil that potential as we build back greener.”

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More information is available from Professor Gavin Walker on gavin.walker@nottingham.ac.uk or Emma Lowry, Media Relations Manager (Engineering) on emma.lowry@nottingham.ac.uk or 0115 8467156. 

Emma Lowry - Media Relations Manager Engineering
Email: emma.lowry@nottingham.ac.uk
Phone: 0115 846 7156
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The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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