Hydrogen in the home

Sheffield-based ITM Power has developed an electrolyser that will generate hydrogen for domestic use


Sheffield-based ITM Power has developed an electrolyser that will generate hydrogen for domestic energy use and will be put into production next year.


ITM’s electrolyser uses new low cost materials, which significantly outperform and undercut those previously used and was developed and patented by the company’s research centre.


An electrolyser converts water and electricity into hydrogen and oxygen. These gases can be used as fuel for combustion engines, fuel cells, heating and conventional electricty generation. Existing units cost in the region of $2,000/kW, but ITM has achieved stack costs as low as $164/kW.


ITM power is developing products which will not only revolutionise energy sources for the home, but make a significant contribution to cutting CO2 emissions.’ said company CEO Jim Heathcote. ‘Hydrogen has an important role to play in bringing ‘green’ technology to the housing market and our development work, which will reach the production stage next year, has ensured it will arrive much sooner than many dreamed possible.’


The development is a major advance towards the government’s goal of achieving a zero carbon housing market by 2016. Currently domestic consumers account for over 20 per cent of the UK’s CO2 emissions.


Electricity from renewable sources, which is becoming increasingly available, could be used to run the electrolyser. reducing the CO2 emissions to almost nothing. Alternatively customers could use low cost off-peak electricity or choose a green tariff from their existing supplier.


The hydrogen generated by the machine could be burned in a new or converted boiler, converted back into electricity using domestic fuel-cells or even be used to run a car.


ITM will unveil plans for a hydrogen refueling station later this year and a converted bi-fuel petrol/hydrogen cat based on the Ford Focus.


‘With stored hydrogen’s ability to provide not only fuel for heating and cooking but power, either through a conventional generator or a fuel cell,’ Heathcote added. ‘The prospect of energy self-sufficiency without the dependence on fossil fuels has moved dramatically closer.’