Dual-use hydrogen energy storage project could put food cold chain on road to net zero

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The University of Nottingham is kick-starting a new £1m project to develop dual-use energy storage technology, capable of delivering hydrogen to a fuel cell and generating direct cooling for refrigeration.

The system would allow hydrogen power to become a key part of the UK’s sustainable energy future and to help decarbonise the UK’s food cold chain, which is responsible for 18% of the country’s total energy use.

The technology will target commercial food operations where refrigeration can be responsible for 30-60% of electricity usage (1.2% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions).

In addition to factories and processing plants, the UK food industry also operates a network of 84,000 refrigerated heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to transport perishable goods.

Up to 24% of the power output of refrigerated trucks used across the network is required to meet refrigeration demand, resulting in significant CO2 emissions.

Successful implementation of the technology will reduce the UK food cold chain’s dependency on imported energy and accelerate the large-scale roll out of hydrogen fuel cells for HGV applications. This could lead to an increase in operating efficiency with a corresponding reduction in commercial operating costs, potentially making the UK more economically competitive.

Background

The project aims to

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