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Hydrogen powered house connects to UK grid

A West Midlands housing association and the University of Birmingham have launched a domestic house powered by a hydrogen fuel cell system.

The fuel cell unit powers the house’s electricity, water and central heating and is housed in a shed in the back garden of one of Black Country Housing Group’s (BCHG) new homes in Stourbridge.

The system uses the natural gas infrastructure and converts it into hydrogen using a reformer. This then combines hydrogen and oxygen through a membrane to produce electricity, heat and water.

The new fuel cell is a Baxi Innotech unit that generates 1.5kW of electricity and provides 3 kW of heat suitable for domestic heating and hot water that is transferred to a 600-litre water tank heat store next to the fuel cell.

The heat is circulated through conventional radiators and to the hot water cylinder in the house, while the electricity generated by the fuel cell powers the house. If the house needs less electricity the extra generated is exported to the National Grid. If the house needs more electricity, the additional amount required is imported from the grid.

The £2m project is jointly funded by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands and the Engineering and Physical Sciences  Research Council

Richard Baines, Director of Sustainable Development at BCHG, said:

“Hydrogen fuel cells are leading the way when it comes to green energy and it’s our belief in this technology that has driven us to install the fuel cell. Minimising impact on the environment is everyone’s responsibility, but as a social housing landlord we are able to make a real difference to the technology used in homes.”

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