Multinational engineering and design firm Arup is leading a UK government project examining the feasibility of phasing out the use of natural gas for domestic use by converting homes to hydrogen (H2).

The £25m ($32.7m) Hydrogen for Heat Programme, commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), will look at the feasibility of converting a small village or estate to replace natural gas with H2 for cooking and heating. The Arup-led consortium, including H2 specialists Kiwa Gastec, will explore the practicalities of using the zero-carbon gas in homes and will facilitate the design and manufacture of new appliances such as fires, cookers and boilers, for both domestic and commercial use.

Expected to run until March 2021, the project will explore public attitudes to changing to H2. Ultimately the project will have laid all the ground work for the demonstration of a pilot project in a village or small town.

Claire Perry (left), UK’s Climate Change Minister, said the Clean Growth Strategy sets out how they intend to reduce carbon emissions from homes across the country.

She continued, “This £25m ($32.7m) Hydrogen for Heat Programme will provide important evidence on how we might convert heating and cooking systems to hydrogen, explore the feasibility of the transition from natural gas and, crucially, the opinions of the people who could be using this zero-carbon fuel.”

Jon Saltmarsh, Head of Technical Energy Analysis, BEIS, added, “This is an important project to help advance H2 use in the UK and worldwide. The project will explore the feasibility of the transition and, crucially, the opinions of the people who will be using this zero-carbon fuel. The programme will add to a growing understanding of the potential of H2 for a range of purposes.”

Arup Project Director, Mark Neller, commented, “The UK has an opportunity to lead the way in using H2 as an important domestic fuel, making a significant reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This project will help establish the feasibility of converting towns and cities to H2 in a cost effective way, making use of the current natural gas network.”

Mark Crowther, Technical Director, Kiwa Gastec, said: “This programme will make a significant contribution to the UK tapping into the H2 economy. It will help build the UK’s capability to design and manufacture appliances to use H2. It also could open up options for decarbonising transport – a development that would be far easier if H2 is available via existing gas infrastructure.”