£7.7m award for hydrogen-uranium energy storage pilot
28 November 2022
A consortium which includes Urenco has been awarded funding from the UK Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to develop a hydrogen storage solution.
The 7.7 million in funding is from the BEIS £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.
The HyDUS project, run by the consortium, will produce a hydrogen storage demonstrator chemically bonded to depleted uranium (U-238) in metal hydride form (UH3).
The consortium is composed of EDF UK R&D, University of Bristol, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and Urenco.
David Fletcher, Head of Business Development at Urenco, said: “We are proud to be a part of this exciting project which brings together proven fusion technology and a potential commercial use for Urenco’s stock of depleted uranium Tails to develop a sustainable, low carbon energy storage solution for the emerging hydrogen economy.”
Minister for Climate Graham Stuart said: “Accelerating renewables is key to boosting our energy resilience. Energy storage helps us get the full benefit of these renewables, improving efficiency and helping drive down costs in the long term.
“This £32.9 million government backing will enable green innovators across the UK to develop this technology, helping create new jobs and encouraging private investment, while also safeguarding the UK’s energy security.”
Storing excess energy for longer periods, which is low carbon, could bring down the cost of net zero and help to mitigate periods of low energy generation, such as when there is low wind. This has traditionally been done with fossil fuels, natural gas in particular, which can be stored in bulk and provide a flexible source of electricity to meet the peak demands of UK homes. However, new technology is now required to store low-carbon generation sources when they are being produced in excess.
HyDUS will see the chemical storage of hydrogen at ambient conditions through the reversible formation of heavy-metal hydride compounds.
One of the architects behind the HyDUS technology, Professor Tom Scott said: “The hydride compounds that we’re using can chemically store hydrogen at ambient pressure and temperature but remarkably they do this at twice the density of liquid hydrogen. The material can also quickly give-up the stored hydrogen simply by heating it, which makes it a wonderfully reversible hydrogen storage technology."
David added: “We firmly believe that hydrogen production is key to the net zero transition, especially for difficult to decarbonise and heavy industries and bulk transport which cannot be electrified. In fact, independent research commissioned by Urenco, shows that producing hydrogen through a combination of nuclear and renewables can cut costs and reduce emissions in a net zero energy system by 2050.”
The HyDUS project will deliver a modular demonstrator system within the next 24 months with an ambition to initially install the technology on nuclear sites, thereby enhancing the profitability of nuclear power stations that run 24-7. Later, however it is hoped that the technology could be more widespread, and used to support transport and heavy industries such as aluminium and steel smelting.
This funding has been made available from the government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which looks to accelerate the commercialisation of low-carbon technologies and systems.
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Notes to editors
About Urenco's role in the project
As a project partner, Urenco will contribute depleted uranium material also known as tails, which is made as a by-product of the uranium enrichment process. Following the successful project demonstration, Urenco will contribute to the commercial implementation of this innovative hydrogen storage technology.
About the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Leading economy-wide transformation by backing enterprise and long-term growth, generating cheaper, cleaner, homegrown energy and unleashing the UK as a science superpower through innovation.
This funding has been made available from the Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration (LODES) Stream 2- Phase 2 competition, part of the Government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which looks to accelerate the commercialisation of low-carbon technologies and systems.
Senior Communications Officer, Urenco
Urenco is an international supplier of enrichment services and fuel cycle products with sustainability at the core of its business. Operating in a pivotal area of the nuclear fuel supply chain for 50 years, Urenco facilitates zero carbon electricity generation for consumers around the world.
With its head office near London, UK, Urenco’s global presence ensures diversity and security of supply for customers through enrichment facilities in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA. Using centrifuge technology designed and developed by Urenco, and through the expertise of our people, the Urenco Group provides safe, cost effective and reliable services; operating within a framework of high environmental, social and governance standards, complementing international safeguards.
Urenco is committed to continued investment in the responsible management of nuclear materials; innovation activities with clear sustainability benefits, such as nuclear medicine, industrial efficiency and research; and nurturing the next generation of scientists and engineers.