UK earns part of $2 million for clean hydrogen research

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVQ/Press Release) — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today awarded $2 million to four research and development (R&D) projects advancing clean-hydrogen production technologies, which may prove pivotal to reducing carbon emissions and meeting the Biden Administration’s climate change goals.

“One of the important ways to achieve net-zero carbon emissions is to find innovative approaches to create clean sources of energy like hydrogen,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “With these awards, we’re leaning on some of America’s most brilliant minds to turn these ideas into real solutions – at the same time creating clean energy jobs and reducing pollution in the air we breathe.”

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Natural gas is currently the main source for hydrogen production by industrial facilities in the United States. With this funding, researchers will explore a different way to produce hydrogen using a process known as co-gasification.

Co-gasification blends waste from biomass, plastic, and coal feedstocks with oxygen and steam under high pressures and temperatures, which has the potential to produce cleaner hydrogen. When combined with carbon capture and storage, this process may even lead to net-negative emissions.

“The University of Kentucky continues exploring the future of energy production to encourage cutting-edge job growth in our Commonwealth. I’m proud to support UK’s innovative pilot program and our coal communities,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. “Kentucky remains at the center of coal research and technology, tapping into our high-skilled workforce and natural resources. I’ll keep working to deliver federal funding for ongoing fossil energy research programs in Kentucky.”

The funding opportunity from DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy will enable four teams to work on co-gasification technologies, with a focus on prioritizing sustainable feedstocks such as waste from forestry or agriculture. The four projects selected are described below:

  • Auburn University (Auburn, AL) plans to study the gasification performance of select feedstock mixtures in a laboratory-scale fluidized-bed gasifier. Award amount is $499,485.
  • Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (Palo Alto, CA) plans to perform testing of a moving-bed gasifier using coal, biomass, and waste plastic blends to generate clean hydrogen. Award amount is $500,002.
  • University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, KY) plans to develop and study a coal, biomass, and plastic blend fuel by producing hydrophobic layer encapsulated biomass suitable for slurry, conducting lab-scale kinetic and gasification studies on the feedstock blend, and demonstrating practical operations in a commercially relevant one ton per day entrained flow gasifier. Award amount is $500,000.
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT) plans to leverage a high-pressure, slurry-fed, oxygen-blown entrained-flow system to enable co-gasification of biomass and waste plastic by creating slurries of coal, biomass pyrolysis liquids, and liquefied plastic oil. Award amount is $500,000.

The Office of Fossil Energy (FE) funds R&D projects to advance fossil energy technologies and further the sustainable use of the nation’s fossil resources. To learn more about these programs, visit the FE website or sign up for news announcements.

FE funding opportunities are administered by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). More information about NETL is available on the NETL website.