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UK starts using hydrogen for home heating

UK has introduced zero-carbon hydrogen into its gas network for the first time by using 20% hydrogen and natural gas blend to heat 100 homes and 30 faculty buildings at Keele University in Staffordshire.

The working principle is not that complex. First, hydrogen is captured using an electrolyser, which runs electricity through water to split it back into hydrogen and oxygen and this can then be injected into existing modern gas networks, with no need for customers to change their pipework.

Keele University was chosen as an ideal location for testing purposes, because it owns and operates a private gas network that can be isolated from the main network.

The preparation for this trial took two years and included gas safety checks on all buildings, laboratory tests on gas appliances and research on the effect of hydrogen on materials found in the gas network.

This trial will run until July and if successful a pilot will be rolled out in the north-east to deliver the 20% hydrogen blend to 670 domestic and commercial properties in Winlaton, Gateshead.

Heating homes and businesses is responsible for half of the UK’s energy consumption and a third of its carbon dioxide emissions. Injecting the 20% hydrogen blend out across the UK could save about 6m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, which roughly accounts to taking 2.5m cars off the road.

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