The UK government has launched a new funding scheme for the development of technology to produce hydrogen from sustainable biomass and waste while capturing and storing the released carbon.

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The first £5m phase of funding in the Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme will provide up to £250,000 to companies, research institutions and universities to conduct feasibility studies, with a second phase to follow, which will offer further funding for pilot projects.

BECCS (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) offers the possibility of being carbon-negative, ie, removing carbon from the atmosphere, by taking CO2 absorbed by plant matter as it grows, and then storing it indefinitely, often it in a solid form, such as carbon black or biochar.

“This innovative technology offers incredible potential for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, crucial to reaching our net zero goals,” said energy and climate change minister Greg Hands. “This government funding will help support the development of this new technology in the UK, boosting green jobs and investment while slashing carbon emissions.”

Several companies around the world are already progressing with technologies to produce hydrogen from biomass and/or waste, including Ways2H, SGH2, CAC-H2, Mote and Iwatani.

The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is looking for applications across three categories:

1) Feedstock pre-processing: the development of “low cost, energy and material efficient technologies to optimise biomass and waste feedstocks for use in advanced gasification technologies”;

2) Advanced gasification technology components that can convert biomass or waste into aviation fuel, diesel, hydrogen, methane or other hydrocarbons;

3) The development of novel biohydrogen technologies that can be combined with CCS, such as fermentation, anaerobic digestion and waste water treatment.

The funding will come from BEIS’s £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies.