How heat pumps could be powered by hydrogen to make them even more eco friendly

Hydrogen-source heat pumps could markedly reduce the carbon footprint of energy supply chains
Hydrogen-source heat pumps could markedly reduce the carbon footprint of energy supply chains (Image credit: Getty Images)

Using hydrogen-source heat pumps to heat UK households could slash the carbon footprint of global energy supply chains, according to researchers.

Experts from the Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre at the University of Sheffield carried out a supply chain analysis on heating households using hydrogen-source heat pumps compared to heat pump systems utilising air, ground and water as their energy source.

The researchers believe it is the first study to consider hydrogen as an alternative energy source for air source heat pumps.

Renewable forms of energy could transform the UK's carbon footprint

The research paper says the heat pump market and its supply chain “will play a significant role in shaping the energy security and resilience of the United Kingdom.”

The researchers said they hope the results of the project will help policymakers and other stakeholders select more environmentally-friendly supply chain pathways for heat pumps, enhancing the resilience of the UK’s energy supply.

“This research highlights the potential of a net-zero emissions strategy for heat pumps in mitigating ecological impacts, attracting investment, gaining support from local authorities, and influencing decision-makers to allocate more financial resources for the expansion of renewable energy sources and their integration into the grid network,” said Prof Lenny Koh, director of advanced resource efficiency at the University of Sheffield and co-head of Energy Institute.

Could reduce strain on UK's power grid

The scientist’s findings indicate that hydrogen-based heat pumps, which operate using green hydrogen derived from renewable energy sources instead of relying on electricity from the grid network, have the potential to reduce stress on the national grid network and minimize the environmental impacts associated with the supply chain.

Hydrogen's abundant availability, minimal emissions, significant reduced greenhouse gases and reversible generation process were noted as key benefits.

The research paper’s conclusion says the United Kingdom exhibits substantial potential for manufacturing and advancing hydrogen production systems domestically. It suggests the heat pump supply chain, and the supply chain for hydrogen production technologies such as electrolysis, are strengthened in parallel in the United Kingdom. It also calls for manufacturing capacity development to supply all main components of heat pump units in the United Kingdom, including compressors, evaporators, valves, piping, insulation, and refrigerants.

“The outcomes of this study could also help policymakers choose more sustainable supply chain scenarios and routes to counter climate change, reduce toxicology and global warming damaging consequences,” the researchers concluded. “Such actions to improve UK energy sustainability, resiliency and security are poised to have substantial direct and indirect benefits on a wide range of industries and sectors.”

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.