Hydrogen is an important energy carrier that can play a key role in reducing carbon emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and aviation, heating and distributed power, and industrial applications like steelmaking, glassmaking and semiconductor manufacturing.
There is growing interest around wider adoption of hydrogen and its potential economic and environmental benefits, and so the University of Michigan has launched a new initiative to support and catalyze multidisciplinary research involving the universe’s lightest and most abundant element.
MI Hydrogen, a joint venture by the Office of the Vice President for Research, Michigan Engineering and the School for Environment and Sustainability, will foster collaboration among U-M researchers, community groups, government and industry partners so they can address existing knowledge gaps and develop strategies to help society transition toward an energy future that is equitable, affordable, clean and secure. The initiative, which will engage faculty across disciplines, is designed to provide the leading research necessary to accelerate the use of hydrogen beyond current industrial limits.
MI Hydrogen is part of the newly launched Institute for Energy Solutions, which is supported by Michigan Engineering and the Office of the Vice President for Research. The Center for Sustainable Systems will play a lead role in the effort. Professors Todd Allen and Greg Keoleian, who have extensive research experience in fields ranging from nuclear engineering to sustainable systems, will serve as co-directors for MI Hydrogen.
Allen and Keoleian recently convened a series of visioning sessions with faculty engaged in the hydrogen space to solicit feedback regarding ways in which U-M can help accelerate clean and just energy transitions. The initiative builds upon the Hydrogen Roadmap for the State of Michigan Workshop hosted last spring at U-M, which brought together stakeholders from academia, industry and government, and led to a report published by the Center for Sustainable Systems, a lead collaborator of MI Hydrogen.
Based on community input around the proposed design and direction for the initiative, MI Hydrogen will launch with a set of new research projects focused on transportation and industrial applications. Hydrogen is primarily used nowadays in the chemical and petroleum refining industries.
Teams also will analyze the potential statewide demand for hydrogen, and develop a framework for hydrogen ecosystem planning and implementation. A majority of hydrogen production in the United States and abroad is generated from steam methane reforming of natural gas, which is problematic from a climate change perspective.
The potential for hydrogen to serve as a clean, economical energy carrier has generated increased momentum federally, highlighted by a recent commitment from the Department of Energy to invest $7 billion toward the creation of six to 10 regional hubs designed to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen across the U.S.