New Study Identifies Hydrogen Processes to Decarbonise Ireland’s Energy Supply

Monday, 24 February 2020

The study was published in world’s leading science journal Nature Energy

A new study written by three NUI Galway academics on how renewable energy sources can generate storable hydrogen fuel through water electrolysis has been published by the world leading multi-disciplinary science journal, Nature Energy

The study was written in collaboration with the University of Liverpool and the Technical University Berlin. The three NUI Galway academics involved include Dr Wenming Tong, Dr Roghayeh Sadeghi Erami and Dr Pau Farràs Costa.

NUI Galway’s recently published strategy focuses on sustainability as one of its core objectives.  Hydrogen has experienced a massive growth in interest with large car manufacturers and oil and gas companies showing a clear shift of their investment strategies towards it.  Hydrogen is a clean energy vector and is seen as a key component in the energy mix to meet the targets of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which relate to climate change mitigation.

The NUI Galway study looks at how electric current in the form of electrolysis can be applied to water to produce a chemical reaction to produce hydrogen and how the renewable energy source can be stored. The study analyses current costly methods of electrolysis such as used in the desalination of sea water and addresses potential other approaches that yield stronger results to deliver more sustainable energy production and storage. Potable and clean water is a precious resource which should not be used to produce fuels.

The lead author of the study, Dr Pau Farràs Costa of the Energy Research Centre at the Ryan Institute of NUI Galway, said: “Hydrogen is one of the world’s most exciting fuels and can be the key to unlock Ireland’s energy needs for the next 50 years.  This study looks at how installing an electrolyser, a device which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrical energy, will allow us to achieve Ireland’s climate targets in transport, heating, energy and storage. With the right vision and drive, Ireland can be a world leader in developing new clean technologies as it doesn’t have other major energy industries to displace.  Hydrogen can deliver to all sectors of society, creating a zero-emission economy.”

Dr Farràs Costa is one of Ireland’s experts in synthetic chemistry and catalysis, having received numerous awards and fellowships, including the prestigious Newton International Fellowship by the Royal Society in 2013 and the Great North Museum Fellowship in 2015 for outreach activities.  He has published over 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has been selected as Emerging Investigator 2018 by Chemical Communications.

At present, there is a gap in Ireland in renewable energy and its storage, and hydrogen can be the key to solve the issue. NUI Galway has been working in this sphere for some time and is already involved in exciting projects to power transport fleets using hydrogen. 

The full study can be viewed at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-020-0550-8.

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Keywords: Press.

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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