Michelmersh has announced its successful application to the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Industrial Fuel Switching competition to conduct a feasibility study to replace natural gas with hydrogen in the manufacturing process of bricks.
The scheme is part of the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) which aims to provide funding for low carbon technologies to reduce the costs of decarbonisation.
The project represents a landmark global physical study to replace natural gas with hydrogen in brick making. Phase 1 of the project will demonstrate the viability of fuel switching and will see hydrogen used in the clay brick production process at the Michelmersh site in Freshfield Lane. The project aims to inspire step change in the sector and present opportunities and evidence-based research to support manufacturers on their journey towards massive decarbonization of production processes.
As the organization leading the BEIS Deep Decarbonisation of Brick Manufacturing project, Michelmersh has gone the extra mile to promote and disseminate the progress and learning of the project through a dedicated brand; HyBrickTM. Working alongside a panel of expert partners, and after an introduction by Hydrogen Sussex, the consortium includes Limpsfield Combustion, Net Zero Associates, University of Brighton, Greater South East Net Zero Hub, FT Pipelines, Geopura and Safety Monitors.
Green electrolytic hydrogen will be used for this innovative study, helping to demonstrate how this technology can transform the brick-making industry. All consortium partners are excited to facilitate and promote the production of the world’s first 100% hydrogen clay bricks, enabling a movement towards hydrogen and paving the way for the net zero future that our country aspires to. .
This first HyBrickTM study will explore testing of specific infrastructure components to prove hydrogen heating capability and determine any impact on overall quality, brick integrity or aesthetics. Data will be collected and analyzed to determine any effects on process temperatures or stability.
The bricks will then be compared to control bricks (produced from 100% natural gas) to ensure they meet all technical, aesthetic and feature requirements, with independent laboratory testing to determine their durability and performance. structural. Of paramount importance and conducted throughout the project are dedicated health and safety risk analyses, assessments and training, as well as air quality performance testing.
Associated work on hydrogen generation solutions aims to provide opportunities for Michelmersh with clean, resilient on-site hydrogen, which could help the Michelmersh Group pave the way for a more sustainable future for the ceramics industry. at large.
Sarah Le Gresley, Michelmersh’s Director of Innovation, Chair of the Sustainability Group and Head of Applications, is excited to begin the world’s first trials. Sarah is incredibly passionate about demonstrating that in addition to the clay brick having zero operational carbon, this also offers the potential to dramatically reduce the embodied carbon of the clay brick by over 60%.
Sarah recently coined the phrase ‘Shaping Genuine Sustainability’ for the group to emphasize investing in real carbon reduction projects rather than funding carbon offsets.
Sarah works with Michael Brophy, the band’s production manager, who is also keen to demonstrate the band’s progressive approach to sustainability. Michael is excited to push the boundaries and explore the engineering, production capabilities and requirements that will take sustainable manufacturing in the UK to the next level.
As Michelmersh focuses on leading the industry by testing and exploring new technologies and efficient production methods, including but not limited to fuel switching, he will strive to show how construction products natural and locally made materials can provide significant carbon reductions throughout the life of sustainable materials. available to prescribers.
Feasibility studies began in the spring, and we will see the production of the most sustainable clay bricks in the world, and the first to be produced with 100% hydrogen. To celebrate Michelmersh’s success and encourage its customers to stay united with it on this journey of positive change, the Group will be showcasing a select amount of HyBrickTM products to its most engaged customers and stakeholders.
Frank Hanna, co-CEO of Michelmersh, explained: “The Group is proud to be at the forefront of such an evolution for our industry. While we have seen energy costs rise due to environmental and political factors, this incredible application of technology and innovation enables the Group to significantly reduce costs, improve resilience and welcome new new products that take sustainability to a whole new level.
“While we look forward to the challenges ahead, we are optimistic about the change we can inspire within the manufacturing sector. With decades of experience in producing high quality products and with the help of our industry leading partners, the group is well placed to lead the UK with this flagship world first.
“The Group has set itself ambitious sustainability KPIs for 2030, which include 100% of our electricity supplied by green suppliers and renewable sources from October 2022, with other renewable energy sources on site already in the field at the Michelmersh sites. The team understands the impact this project could have if successful, but also recognizes that there is a long way to go before hydrogen is fully tested in the various production processes or is be financially viable to extend to all our sites.
“Our sustainability group sees this project as one string to its bow, while undertaking a variety of research and feasibility projects to determine the most carbon efficient and commercially sensible solutions to complete its ambitious sustainability roadmap. of sustainable development.”