Alternate fuels and fuel cells

One method of reducing fossil fuel consumption is to look at alternative methods of storing and transporting energy. Sustainable energy vectors are energy carriers that are renewable and that could be used to replace current fossil energy carriers (Coal, Oil and Gas). Examples of sustainable vectors are hydrogen, ethanol, formic acid, ammonia. The EPSRC portfolio focuses mostly on the use of hydrogen.

Hydrogen research is focusing on reducing the cost of the generation of hydrogen, the safe transport of hydrogen, the efficient and safe storage of hydrogen (for example in car fuel tanks), the conversion of hydrogen in Fuel Cells to produce an electric current, and the economics of a hydrogen energy system.

Fuel cells are the most efficient devices known for converting a range of fuels into electricity and, in some cases, heat. They also enable the efficient use of alternative fuels such as hydrogen and bio-fuels. Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that convert chemical energy to electrical energy without combustion. Likewise other fuels such as hydrogen could be used as a direct replacement for petrol and diesel in our vehicles. However, many technical obstacles need to be overcome if these technologies are to enter widespread use.

Our funding will allow us to continue and further build on the strong UK research base in this area. This will help deliver future transport technologies such as hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles, and high efficiency combined heat and power units using stationary fuel cells.

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