There is increasing and widespread consensus that hydrogen will play a key part on the roadmap towards net zero transportation, particularly in the hard to decarbonise sectors such as heavy-duty vehicles, aviation, marine and off-highway. The expertise and technology at IAAPS will be instrumental in developing the skills and opportunities for a new hydrogen-based supply-chain and infrastructure, including production, storage, end use application as well as on wider policy level.

IAAPS’ new green hydrogen manufacturing capability became operational in 2023 and is the first of its kind in the South West of England. It forms the basis of a regional renewable transport energy research hub, working with over 30 cross-sector partners to stimulate green growth in the region and to provide an important link in the national H2 research infrastructure.

The H2 plant generates power from an array of solar panels (Photovoltaics – PV) installed on the roof of the state-of-the-art IAAPS building. This solar energy primarily fuels the H2 electrolyser plant, producing green H2. The plant and accompanying storage are sized to support the operation of a 400kW propulsion research facility.

Orbital Fabrications were appointed as the Hydrogen gas specialist and worked closely with IAAPS to deliver the new Hydrogen distribution system over a period of 6 months. The system extended from a low-pressure electrolyser and hydrogen storage tank through to the 100% H2 boiler and a number of engine test cells in the facility.

The system is designed to deliver a hydrogen flow rate of up to 60kg per hour at a maximum pressure of 30bar. An initial design specification requested the hydrogen have a purity of up to 99.97%. This meant material selection was critical, with the final system capable of delivering up to 99.999% purity.

In total, over 400 meters of stainless-steel tubing was installed externally, on the roof and internally within the facility. The system underwent stringent pressure testing to ensure a safe and leak free system was handed over to the client.

Upon final completion and following the commissioning stage, a comprehensive documentation package was submitted including final sign-off sheets, test certificates, material certs, weld logs, weld maps, system schematics, engineering drawings and other various supporting documents.

The installation of the hydrogen facility was funded by a £2.5m grant by Research England’s UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) as part of its net zero pilot funding scheme.