Home hydrogen refuelling could become a viable energy alternative in the future, according to the sentiments of the UK’s ITM Power, which has just unveiled its fuelling station for the modern household.

A hydrogen refuelling station which could be installed in the home as an alternative to visiting a petrol station has been unveiled, with the system also capable of being used for heating and cooking.

ITM Power believes the concept could eventually provide part of the much needed infrastructure to kick-start a hydrogen-based economy, for which one of the hurdles has been the development and implementation of a cost-effective fuelling network or infrastructure.

Hydrogen home showcased
The home refuelling station works through a process of electrolysis, during which the gas is produced from water and electricity, and an internal combustion generator converts the gas back into electricity to provide power for the home.

The Sheffield-based company has set up a showcase hydrogen home in the Yorkshire city, where the gas is used for heating, cooking and even to operate a fridge.

Enthusiastic about the notion of utilising and storing hydrogen, ITM Chief Executive Jim Heathcote is quoted by BBC News as saying, “Given the pressing need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, especially oil, and to cut CO2 emissions, the future for hydrogen as an alternative means of storing and utilising energy cost-effectively has never been brighter.”

Addressing the practical side of the argument however, David Hart, a research fellow at Imperial College London studying hydrogen energy, questioned the cost implications and energy efficiencies of such technology.

“The critical element of this is how much it would cost to put such a refuelling station in your home. The technology is very plausible but there are some issues about public acceptance,” he said.

Major breakthrough
ITM Power is also involved in the launch of a hybrid Ford Focus car converted to run on hydrogen, as revealed by gasworld in July last year.

A year ago, the company made a major breakthrough in the development of pure hydrogen-fuelled cars, giving a glimpse of the greener transport era of the future. The bi-fuel Ford Focus features minimal modifications and had successfully completed an initial trial programme conducted by the University of Hertfordshire on behalf of ITM Power Plc.

During the testing programme, the vehicle was able to travel over 25 miles on a single charge of hydrogen, before being switched back to run on petrol and produced no CO2 emissions.