The viability and public perception of the introduction of bio-hydrogen technology to Wales with specific reference to anaerobic dark fermentation of agricultural crops

  • Samantha Paterson

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    This was the first study to be undertaken to research hydrogen perception using qualitative research techniques in Wales and one of the first in the UK.

    The public perception study identified gender differences, with women generally more accepting of hydrogen technology. The main concerns were safety (both of use and in production) and cost. Specific aspects of dark fermentation technology were able to address a number of the participants concerns relating to pollution being moved to production sites. The groups' attitude to the development of hydrogen technology was supportive but with the caveat that price and safety should not be compromised.

    It must be noted that this was a small scale exploratory study and, therefore, the results are not statistically rigorous. This work has however been followed up by others in the field using qualitative techniques, and similar results have been repeated.

    The second study performed under this MPhil study was the quantification of biohydrogen potential from crops available in the UK and undertaken as part of the UK SHEC work package. This is the first time this has been calculated and this work was done in order to determine whether it is energetically feasible if performed at full-scale.

    Fodder Beet, Perennial Rye Grass and Forage Maize have been identified as the most suitable energy crops and it would be feasible to produce 0.47 TWh of electrical energy annually. This would be enough to power circa 10% of welsh homes, based on the use of a conservative amount (8%) of welsh arable land.

    This equates to a reduction in CO2 emissions by over 114,768 tonnes per annum in the UK and would deliver 10% of the reduction target set for 2010.

    The conclusion of this study is that it is energetically favourable to convert crops to hydrogen on a farm scale, provided that the correct crops and the most energetically favourable methods of farming and conversion are used. Taking into consideration the public perception study results, this approach would be favourable to the public and meet with their pre existing expectations that biologically produced hydrogen would be better for the environment than fossil fuel produced hydrogen and that decentralisation could be a positive outcome. Production of bio hydrogen from dark fermentation can be a net energy producing process and a valid and viable option for future pursuance and research.

    For future studies, it is recommended that a different approach to candidate selection is adopted. This should seek a wider range of social grades, people from rural Wales and Welsh speakers in order to determine whether there are, within the Welsh demographic, cultural differences to the introduction of hydrogen technology. In addition, it is recommended that the cost effectiveness of the technology is investigated in order to find a tipping point whereby hydrogen production from crops becomes competitive with both food production and future fossil fuel pricing.
    Date of AwardOct 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorSandra Esteves (Supervisor)


    • Hydrogen as fuel
    • Renewable energy sources
    • hydrogen

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