Photo: Courtesy of Gravitricity

Gravitricity and Arup secure funding to develop below ground hydrogen storage

Edinburgh-based storage tech firm Gravitricity and British environment consultancy Arup have secured $372,073 (£300,000) from the UK goverment to study the feasibility of storing hydrogen in purpose-built underground shafts.

Gravitricity and Arup secure funding to develop below ground hydrogen storage
Courtesy of Gravitricity

Gravitricity and Arup have together secured funding from the Department of Business Energy & Industrial Strategy through the HySupply 2 competition.

The parties will collaborate to deliver a complete system design and commercial feasibility report for the new idea, as well as identify a potential site for their underground hydrogen store. The design will also include integration with gravity energy storage and inter-seasonal heat.

The HySupply 2 competition aims to support innovation in the supply of hydrogen, reducing the costs of supplying hydrogen, bringing new solutions to the market, and ensuring that the UK continues to develop world-leading hydrogen technologies for a future hydrogen economy.

If successful, the project could be selected to enter Phase 2, where the partners would build a multi-million scale demonstrator in the UK.

This would involve sinking a purpose-built concrete-lined vertical underground shaft with a domed cap, to create a demonstration pressurised hydrogen storage vessel.

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Gravitricity’s hydrogen and thermal storage lead Sally Molyneux says: “If green hydrogen is to become a mass-market fuel of the future then we need to find ways to store it safely and in large quantities close to where it is needed.

“Storing hydrogen in underground shafts is intrinsically safer and less obtrusive than above-ground options and is a solution that does not require unique geology such as salt caverns. We believe Gravitricity’s innovation is a scalable storage method which is cost effective, extremely durable, and can be implemented everywhere.”

Gravitricity managing director Charlie Blair adds: “In the past, our cities relied on huge gasometers to store the gas they required. In the future, our towns can look to purpose-built shafts to safely store the green hydrogen they will need.”

Mark Neller, Arup’s energy leader for the UK, India, Middle East, and Africa, said: “This project will draw on Arup’s extensive skills and experience, as part of our wider efforts to help the UK meet its ambitious target of reaching net-zero by 2050.”

UK energy minister Greg Hands said: “The government support which they have received today will help to boost the development of hydrogen as the clean, affordable, homegrown superfuel of the future.”

Longer-term, the partners believe the shafts can also be used for fast response electricity storage, using Gravitricity’s solid weight technology which raises and lowers heavyweights in a shaft.

In addition, the shaft’s gastight lining will in future incorporate heat exchangers for inter-seasonal heat storage.

This sharing of infrastructure means the cost per unit of energy stored (as electricity, heat, and hydrogen) will be very competitive.

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