A group led by the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) has won European Union (EU) funding for an energy project pairing advanced lead batteries with hydrogen.
The CBI said the project – now in the grant and consortium legal approval phase – could transform the supply of clean, reliable energy storage in developing countries, starting with Zambia and Ivory Coast. The Horizon Europe funding from the EU is worth almost €10 million.
Dr Carl Telford, the CBI’s Research and Innovation Manager, told BEST that the project is called LoCEL-H2 (Low-cost, Circular, plug & play, off-grid Energy for remote Locations including Hydrogen).
“There’s a real need for clean cooking in developing economies…They often use firewood at the moment. That’s bad for your health, it burns the lungs. We want to try hydrogen.”
The project group includes battery-makers, academia, national laboratories, component manufacturers and companies with experience of integration, microgrids and renewables.
The project will generate clean, reliable, sustainable energy for deployment in off-grid communities using a lead-battery electrolyser – known as a battolyser – to support isolated communities who cannot connect to an electricity grid. The battolyser can store electricity and produce hydrogen from renewable energy. A microgrid will consist of solar panels and lead battery in each house.
A battolyser is a low-cost solution for producing clean hydrogen-powered cookers to replace firewood stoves, which have adverse health effects due to smoke inhalation. The International Energy Agency predicts that 2.5 billion people globally rely on firewood and stove-based cooking, predominantly performed by women in low-income countries.
Dani Strickland of Loughborough University said the battolyser product will be made from off-the-shelf components found in the lead battery industry. It will comprise a bespoke low cost cell housing with additional ports for hydrogen gas. These will fit together into a containerised solution that can be expanded depending on the power rating required. The battolyser can be recycled through lead battery facilities.
Plates will be supplied by Hoppecker and be combined with separators from H&V.
The CBI said installing battery energy storage, paired with renewable systems harnessing wind and solar power, will enable reliable and low-cost electricity to be supplied to hard-to-reach communities.
Telford said any excess energy produced by solar will be used to produce hydrogen.
The UK-based CBI and Loughborough University will receive its share of the €10 million award from the UK government, which has guaranteed the money since the UK left the EU.
The CBI led the bid and CEA will co-ordinate it. The members of the partnership are CEA, Hoppecke, Hollingsworth & Vose, UNINA, Loughborough University, Sunkofa, University of Gabes, SAS Réseaux Hydrogène Décarboné RHYDE, and LUMS.
Photo: Small scale test set-up