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New collaboration set to make West Midlands the hydrogen energy centre of the UK

A pioneering hydrogen energy project, part of the Birmingham Science City initiative, will be unveiled at a top-level Science City Summit in Newcastle today (Friday 2nd Feb 2007).

The project, which has just received funding of £6.3 million from Regional Development Agency Advantage West Midlands, will develop the use of hydrogen energy as a green fuel.  The project is the first capital activity to be funded as part of the Birmingham Science City initiative.

The Hydrogen Energy Project, part of an ‘Energy Futures’ collaboration between the universities of Birmingham and Warwick, will bring together and build on existing research excellence and will position the West Midlands as an internationally leading research centre for hydrogen energy.

With the continued threat of global warming, hydrogen energy is seen as one of the best ways of generating energy without producing excessive amounts of carbon or greenhouse gases. 

The new project will research how hydrogen energy can be generated, stored and used as a power source in buildings and transport.  The grant will fund equipment and facilities at the two universities so that they can further research and develop demonstrator projects with public and private sector partners.  A key area of activity will be looking at ways of producing and storing hydrogen using sustainable methods, such as by electrolysis of water and from biomass. 

The Science City initiative aims to pull together world class science and technology within a city and its region and provide that talent with support for new research that will deliver great economic and quality of life benefits not just to the City and the region, but also the country as a whole. 

John Edwards, Chief Executive at Advantage West Midlands said:  “As well as creating high level jobs and cementing the West Midlands’ reputation as the lead centre for Hydrogen Energy research, this project will lead to exciting collaborations between the two universities and regional businesses.  This is enormously exciting as combining the research capabilities of two leading universities puts them on a footing with other world class research establishments.” 

“Energy is a key theme of Birmingham Science City and something that we look forward to developing further in future projects.”

Dr David Book from the University of Birmingham says: “This is an exciting and very opportune development as the practical application of hydrogen as a clean fuel is a vital stepping stone on the path to a zero emission society.” Professor Mark Smith from the University of Warwick said: “Hydrogen based power generation is a key technology that promises to provide relief from the world’s dependence on expensive and environmentally damaging fossil fuels.”

This award is just the beginning of a wide ranging “Energy Futures Programme” research collaboration between the Universities of Birmingham and Warwick that will encompass over 40 researchers in nine academic departments.

Notes to Editors: 

Print quality photography at  Left to right: Prof Michael Clarke Vice Principal University of Birmingham, John Edwards Chief Executive AWM, and Stuart Palmer Vice Principal University of Warwick.

Birmingham Science City – Ideas for Life

Birmingham was designated a Science City by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown in the 2005 Budget along with Nottingham and Bristol.  Manchester, Newcastle and York were all given science city status in 2004. 

The focus of Birmingham Science City is to:-         

- Achieve a world-class research base including joint research with businesses of all sizes both within and outside the region, particularly in Europe.     

- Build on existing strengths in developing effective knowledge transfer between the science and technology base and companies of all sizes and the public sector – and vice versa.  This helps solve problems and develop opportunities in the design of both products and processes.

- Promote the development of our people/skills base to meet the current and future needs of the economy. As an essential part of this, we will prioritise the quality of science and technology education in schools, colleges and higher education.

- Develop projects to promote understanding of science right across the population. In particular, we will encourage more young people to see the value of science and technology, so that they choose to study these subjects and consider taking up a related career.

- Develop demonstrator and flagship projects, particularly in relation to Advanced Materials, Digital Media, Energy, Medical Technology and Healthcare and Transport Technologies. 

Membership of Birmingham Science City

Members of the Birmingham Science City Steering Group:

Advantage West Midlands

Birmingham City Council

Coventry City Council


The University of Birmingham

University of Warwick

Staffordshire University

Innovation Technology Council

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

Association of CollegesWest Midlands Regional Assembly

Higher Education Funding Council for England

Government Office West MidlandsMillennium Point and Thinktank 

For more media information or images please contact Sarah Bridge on 0121 503 3367 or 07881 582 652.