Technological development sits at the heart of solving the grand challenges the world faces. Indeed the stunning pace of development surrounding Covid-19 vaccines powerfully demonstrates how we are living through a period of extraordinary scientific advancement.
Much can be learnt from the global response to the pandemic when it comes to tackling the energy transition, for instance with reference to the development of the hydrogen economy which is currently part of a major Royce landscaping project.
The project is specifically looking at the research and innovation opportunities, and challenges, for materials across the end-to-end hydrogen value chain. The study covers all applications of materials in the hydrogen economy from production through to storage and distribution, and through to its end use in transport, heat and power.
The study’s aim is to identify the key priorities that will enable the hydrogen economy to grow sustainably. In so doing the objective is to identify the major research priorities – and breakthroughs needed to be made – if the hydrogen economy is going to play a key role towards delivering the UK’s 2050 net zero ambition. Rather than a long list of ideas, this project is about identifying just a handful of research priorities that will have a real impact.
The project has been aided hugely by the significant body of work that has already been undertaken on hydrogen which it was able to use as a foundation to build upon.
By reaching out to other groups active in the hydrogen area the project has been able to leverage their knowledge to build a comprehensive picture of the hydrogen materials challenges right across the supply chain.
As a consequence, in a focused three month engagement period the project has been able to identify a set of significant challenges that the UK is well positioned to address and which will play a key role in unlocking the potential hydrogen has to offer.
Bob Sorrell is the Project Champion for the Henry Royce Institute landscape study into materials for end-to-end hydrogen. He is a former Vice President for Research & Innovation at BP.