Free Guide To The Benefits Of A Hydrogen Ready Boiler
Whether we all like it or not, the UK has commited to signing up to Net Zero by 2050. This has serious implications for all of us that have property and the way that we want to heat our homes.
As a result, our reliance on using carbon fuels like natural gas to heat our homes may eventually come to an end.
Hydrogen fuel is the carbon-free alternative that is set to replace our current gas boilers one day, but did you know that many gas boilers are already hydrogen blend ready?
That’s right, some boilers are already designed to accept hydrogen and are simply referred to as ‘hydrogen-blend ready’ boilers (that can accept 20% hydrogen), these are currently available from boiler manufacturers like Worcester Bosch, Baxi and Navien.
Need a new hydrogen ready boiler? Click here.
Just What Are Hydrogen Ready Boilers?
It is essentially a gas-ﬁred boiler that is capable of burning either natural gas or a mix of natural gas/hydrogen. Hydrogen-ready boilers are the key to enabling conversion of the existing gas distribution networks from natural gas (which is mostly methane) to hydrogen. Hydrogen is a carbon-free energy and produces no CO2 at the point of use. A hydrogen-ready boiler is intended to provide a like-for-like replacement for an existing natural gas boiler. The boiler can easily be converted to burn hydrogen at the time when the local network makes the switch over.
What Are The Advantages/Disadvantages Of Hydrogen Ready Boilers?
The biggest advantage of hydrogen ready boilers is that they are more efficient than gas boilers. For every 1kg of hydrogen being burned, 2.8kg of gas is being burned which means you are able to heat your homes just as well but use less fuel in the process, thus saving you money.
Another advantage of hydrogen is that it only means changing the fuel supply and no extra pipelines are necessary. It will be quicker to roll out nationwide and allow a smooth transition from the present supply by not causing any burden to existing heating systems.
Fossil fuels such as gas and oil that are presently used to heat our homes are high on carbon dioxide when burned, which has caused environmental issues over the years. Changing over to hydrogen will reduce the carbon emissions, and you will have played a role in helping our environment. Unlike oil or gas which produce CO2, hydrogen only produces water.
As we all know, gas is flammable, but hydrogen is arguably even more flammable due to its energy storage. Hydrogen does not have a smell so detectors would be essential pretty much like the Co2 detectors we already have in our homes to keep us safe.
Hydrogen is 8 times lighter than natural gas and is much more difficult to store and transport. To achieve adequate conditions, it needs to be turned into a liquid and stored at a low temperature similar to that of LPG.
The cost of heating our homes with hydrogen compared to gas is still unknown. Some reports out there say hydrogen will be 70% more than natural gas whereas other recent reports say it could possibly be cheaper than gas. This seems to be a big unknown, and for that reason it is simply not possible to know for sure how much it is going to cost us to heat our homes if and when we make the changeover to hydrogen ready boilers.
One thing for sure is that whether we choose to opt for a heat pump or a hydrogen ready boiler to heat our homes, it is going to cost more than the traditional natural gas heating. Please click on the linked report for you to analyse to help make up your own mind!
When Will We Transition To Hydrogen?
The government is currently carrying out trials to work through all the cost, feasibility and safety issues. It is expected that a decision will be made by 2026 on what role hydrogen boilers will play in heating our homes. Although timescales are not yet decided, any switch to hydrogen will most likely come in stages.
Many boiler manufacturers are already making their boilers to a ‘hydrogen-ready’ standard, which means they’ll work with natural gas, but can be modified to run on a hydrogen mix.
A 20% hydrogen blend will be introduced into the gas supply. Most boilers will be able to use this as normal. The rollout of 20% hydrogen is still being discussed but it is not expected to begin until at least 2028.
The government is still undecided about an exact date for the rollout of 100% hydrogen boilers but according to reports, it will not happen until the 2030’s at least.
Can I Buy A Hydrogen Ready Boiler Now?
100% hydrogen ready boilers i.e. boilers able to accept pure hydrogen gas are not yet available and are still in development and testing.
However, hydrogen blend ready gas boilers are available and come with a blend of around 20% hydrogen 80% natural gas. This means that when the UK’s gas infrastructure starts to add hydrogen into the mix, these boilers will be prepared for the transition, and you won’t need to replace your gas boiler.
There are a number of manufacturers that already have hydrogen ready boilers available to purchase. A few of the top brands like Worcester, Vaillant, Baxi and Navien, all have around a 20% blend of hydrogen ready boilers available to purchase at multiple merchants. Generally speaking there is no extra cost for hydrogen ready boilers. If you would like a quote please click here.
How Do Hydrogen Ready Boilers Work?
They work very similar to that of gas boilers, but here is a breakdown on how they operate…
1: Oxygen and hydrogen enter the boiler
First of all oxygen and hydrogen enter the boiler. The hydrogen comes from the gas supply and the oxygen will come from the air. The gas inlet valve controls how much of each gas can enter the boiler.
2: The gases are mixed and burned
The hydrogen and oxygen are mixed together before being ignited in the burner. Hydrogen being more flammable than natural gas require a specially designed burner so that the flames can be limited if too much gas flows through. A flame detection component is also required in a hydrogen-only boiler as hydrogen flames are invisible.
3: The hot gases enter the heat exchanger
Hot flue gases created by combustion enter the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is made up of a series of pipes, which the hot gas travels through. Surrounding these pipes is cold water. As the hot gas moves through the pipes, it heats the surrounding water that can then be used in your heating system or supplied to your hot taps.
4: Byproducts exit the system
The only byproduct of burning hydrogen and oxygen is water, which would require a condensate pipe to be installed to allow the water to escape. The hot flue gases can exit the system via the flue along with some NOx emissions as a result of hydrogen combustion.
The hydrogen boiler continues to pull in more hydrogen and oxygen so that this whole process can be repeated again and again.
We hope that you got some value from reading this blog and that you now have some understanding as to how Hydrogen Ready Boilers work. Although it still remains unclear exactly when hydrogen will replace natural gas, we can at least gain the knowledge of the pros and cons of hydrogen before the switch happens. The government and some boiler manufacturers have spent millions in researching the benefits of replacing natural gas with a more environmental friendly gas to help us improve the air that we breathe in.
If you would like to have your old, inefficient boiler replaced, but need some more advice first before making the switch, you are more than welcome to contact us here.