method of reducing fossil fuel consumption is to look at alternative methods of
storing and transporting energy.
Fuel cells are the most efficient devices known for converting a range of fuels
into electricity and, in some cases, heat. They also enable the efficient use of
alternative fuels such as hydrogen and bio-fuels. Fuel cells are electrochemical
devices that convert chemical energy to electrical energy without combustion. Likewise
other fuels such as hydrogen could be used as a direct replacement for petrol and
diesel in our vehicles. However, many technical obstacles need to be overcome if
these technologies are to enter widespread use.
A number of projects are in collaboration with industry supporting research into fuel cell technology. We have two existing fuel cell consortia which are the Fuel Cells consortium and the Biological Fuel cells consortium, these are still running and will be until 2014.
There is one existing H2 consortium which is the “SUPERGEN XIV – Delivery of Sustainable Hydrogen” consortium, this is still running but will end in early 2013. This focuses on improving the way which hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels are produced and delivered.
We have also allocated funding for a doctoral training centre in hydrogen and fuel cells at the University of Birmingham.
Our funding will allow us to continue and further build on the strong UK research
base in this area. This will help deliver future transport technologies such as
hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles, and high efficiency combined heat and power
units using stationary fuel cells.