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Boost for National Subsea Centre research into hydrogen safety

By Lewis McBlane

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PIONEERING research by RGU into detecting hydrogen leaks has received a £30,000 boost.

Project Lead Professor James Njuguna is spearheading the new project
Project Lead Professor James Njuguna is spearheading the new project

New ways to spot hydrogen leaks are now in the works as Robert Gordon University's (RGU) National Subsea Centre (NSC) in Dyce has received new funding.

Hydrogen fuel could replace fossil fuels, however the colourless and odourless gas can be dangerous if it is exposed to a spark.

The new funds, from the Royal Society of Edinburgh's (RSE) Scotland-Germany Hydrogen Research Scheme, will help the NSC develop pump priming techniques to help hydrogen be used safely in everyday life.

Project lead Professor James Njuguna said: “Hydrogen can be a clean and dense source of energy but, when in gaseous state, it can spread quickly through the air with no colour, taste, or smell.

"To make expansive use of hydrogen, there is a need to develop a form of highly sensitive hydrogen detection to ensure safety from leaks.

“With this funding from the Scottish Government, we can steer research on this issue while helping to pursue net-zero transition objectives, support Scotland’s Hydrogen Action Plan, and strengthen research collaborations with our partners in the EU.

“I will be working closely with Professor Ha-Duong Ngo from the University of Applied Sciences Berlin, in support of this project.”

The research is funded by the Scottish Government, and allows the project lead to utilise expertise in hydrogen storage at RGU as well as expertise in microsystems and microsensors at the University of Applied Sciences Berlin.

Created in a partnership between RGU and the Net Zero Technology Centre, the National Subsea Centre (NSC) works on projects across the energy and marine engineering sectors.

RSE’s Scotland-Germany Hydrogen Research Scheme seeks to foster research-and practice-based partnerships between Scotland and Germany to develop hydrogen-related research, which can inform Scottish Government policy objectives and lead the way towards a decarbonised future.

RGU is the only University to successfully bid for more than one project in the scheme.

The other project involves producing green hydrogen from brewing biomass

The NSC’s Integrated Energy portfolio of research seeks to design, model, evaluate, and construct leading-edge integrated marine energy grids to support the transition to decarbonised energy using smart materials, robotics, and mixed energy systems.

The centre harnesses academic expertise, research capability, and facilities available at RGU to establish world-class research and development in the fields of subsea engineering, artificial intelligence, data science, and integrated energy.

It is a multi-million-pound centre for excellence in subsea and ocean related research and technology development, and part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal.

The aim of the NSC is to accelerate the Energy Transition through smart technologies applied to industrial and environmental challenges in subsea and related marine sectors.

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