Heating our homes accounts for about 17% of our greenhouse gas emissions, which is comparable to the contribution of all petrol and diesel cars (BEIS, January 2022). Dr Moinul Hossain, Lecturer in Electronic and Computer Engineering, School of Engineering, has recently won the EPSRC New Investigator Award for developing an intelligent system for assessment and monitoring of H2 blend fuels in domestic boilers
To meet net-zero emissions by 2050, the UK Government has highlighted the alternative sources of low carbon heat for decarbonising and set a “Heat decarbonisation: Clean Growth -Transforming Heating” strategy. Moinul’s research ties strongly with this strategy on the decarbonisation of heating with H2.
In domestic boilers, switching from natural gas to H2 introduces significant technical challenges. For example, understanding how much H2 the existing domestic boilers can tolerate without modification to their existing heating systems. The impacts of higher H2-enriched fuels i.e., more than 20% blend with natural gas (which would be a promising solution to lower the CO2 emission compared with other fossil fuels) on widely used heating boilers are not extensively studied and fully understood. It’s also important to know how to make our boilers more environmentally friendly, with the increased proportion of hydrogen blended with natural gas. The decarbonization of domestic heat is a big challenge.
This research project will enable in-depth knowledge of the use of higher H2-enriched fuel and an understanding of the boiler efficiency and pollutant formation process (NOx emission) of domestic boilers. This research work will help researchers and engineers with an intelligent system to understand different H2/CH4 blend combustion and enable new technical strategies to deliver improved heating technologies for emissions reduction in order to meet net-zero emissions.
Measurement data and understanding gained through the research will help to improve boiler design, benefiting the UK boiler manufacturing industries and the economy. The significant long-term impact on society as a whole will be reduced harmful environmental emissions arising from domestic boilers in the UK. More efficient fuel usage will also have a positive economic impact, saving the consumer money.
The main beneficiaries will be the heating boiler design and manufacturing companies for the improvement of the boiler design. The system can be used as a portable diagnostic tool for routine monitoring of boilers. Though this research primarily focuses on the future H2-fired domestic boilers, the principles, concepts and findings can be applied to other combustion applications including H2 internal combustion engines, gas turbine engines (GTEs) and marine engines where NH3 and H2 blends are used.