Low Cost Hydrogen Production for Clean Energy in China

Joint UK-China Network to investigate the production of clean energy and hydrogen via novel process technologies

The increasing threat posed by enhanced global warming, together with the requirement to secure energy supplies for both countries have led to this EPSRC funded collaborative research programme between China and the UK in clean technologies for energy production from fossil fuels and biomass. The overarching theme of this research programme is the production of clean energy/hydrogen from coal and biomass, via a number of thermochemical routes.  Each produces a separate stream of carbon dioxide (for sequestration). The proposed routes are at the early stages of development and knowledge is required on the underlying science of the concepts. The objective of this project is to obtain relevant information by laboratory scale study in the UK. It is intended that this will facilitate further development and scale-up using larger scale facilities in China.

The UK consortium has four prominent UK universities: Sheffield (led by Professor Vida Sharifi and Professor Jim Swithenbank), Imperial College London, University of Cambridge and Cranfield University.  Each has an extensive and successful track record in research projects in the energy field.  Their activities are complementary and together they form a powerful grouping that is necessary to investigate the science of novel process technologies in the energy field. 

In recent years they have recognised the importance of working with China on technology for reducing the impact of power generation, and have been actively developing links with organisations in China. These links have been developed over the past six years by visiting relevant universities and research organisations, by hosting academic visitors in the UK and by receiving students who conduct graduate and postgraduate studies. 

In particular, strong links have been established with the Thermal Power Research Institute (TPRI) in Xi’An, a research company owned by the Huaneng group, and with Tsinghua (TU), Taiyuan (TUT) and the North China Electric Power (NCEPU) Universities, the Chinese collaborators in this EPSRC funded programme.  A key aspect of these recent studies has been to provide training in the UK for early career researchers from China in many areas relevant to energy production from solid fuels and its impact on the environment. They then return to China and further develop the skills and technology using the resources of their parent organisations. Recent research activities within UK and China-based organisations are used in this network as a platform to progress technology development towards a zero emission, sustainable energy future, enabling coal to be continued to be used in substantial quantities.  A major benefit to the UK researchers is access to larger-scale apparatus at Chinese institutions, thereby giving a fast-track to pilot-scale and commercial scale demonstration of the fundamental research undertaken.


Network Members

University of Sheffield

Imperial College London

University of Cambridge

Cranfield University

Thermal Power Research Institute (TPRI), China

Tsinghua University, North China Electric Power University (NCEPU)

Taiyuan University of Technology (TUT), China

The Faculty of Engineering.

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield, home to SUWIC, is one of the biggest and best engineering faculties in the UK.

With extensive expertise in seven academic departments and two interdisciplinary programme areas the faculty covers all the engineering disciplines. Faculty staff are leaders in their fields and they are outstanding contributors to the development of new knowledge and linking their research to the teaching of the engineers of the future.