Reflecting on 18 years of hydrogen and fuel cell research in the Supergens

Some 250+ academics, researchers, industry professionals and policy makers attended H2FC Supergen’s ‘Progress and Future Challenges in Hydrogen and Fuel Cell’ Conference on Wednesday July 14, 2021.

The aim of the event was to reflect on Supergen and alumni achievements over the last 18 years, and to discuss how hydrogen and fuels will contribute to net zero.

During the opening session, Professor Nigel Brandon, a Co-Director of the H2FC Supergen Hub and Dean of Engineering at Imperial College London, showcased a timeline highlighting the contributions the Supergens have made on research, policy and the whole community. Many alumni are now senior academics and industry professionals in the field.

Professor Brandon described how the sector has had its ups and downs, but the role of hydrogen and its carriers in delivering net zero has never been more recognised or urgent.


“As we approach COP26, and with the UKs hydrogen strategy expected very soon, it is timely to reflect on the impact of over £50M of UKRI investment through EPSRC, and the future of the sector,” stressed Brandon.

The day’s opening remarks came from Advisory Board chair, Sue Ellis, who is Research Director at Johnson Matthey. Sue talked about how during the lifetime of the H2FC Supergen hub, hydrogen has moved from being an option to a necessity in the transition to Net Zero, and that the Hub played an important role in supporting this transition throughout the years.

During the first session of the day, speakers from the University of Surrey, Electrochemical Innovation Lab at UCL, University of Strathcylde and University of St Andrews discussed their research in fuel cells and electrolysers and talked about the people that had inspired their work.

Listening attentively throughout the event, was an illustrator, Calum from the company Scriberia. Calum translated each of the four sessions into a visual overview.

Session 1: Advances in Fuel Cells & Electrolysers

After a lively Q&A, the second session began covering how to commercialise hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Professor Dan Brett from UCL gave an inspiring talk on university commercialisation models and introduced his new company, Prosemino focused on incubating and accelerating the commercialisation of electrochemical technology.

The second speaker was from Subhasish Mukerjee of Ceres, a world leading solid oxide fuel cell technology company. Subhashish stressed how the urgency for climate action continues to drive the global demand for clean energy technologies. Up next to the virtual podium, was Ben Todd from Arcola Energy, who talked about Arcola’s work in zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles. Finally, we heard from Chris Jones who described Johnson Matthey’s role in commercialising green hydrogen.

Session 2 Commercialisation of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies

After a lunchbreak and the opportunity to witness our talented scribe live sketching, the afternoon talks covered areas such as hydrogen production, storage, distribution and safety. Daniel Reed from University of Birmingham reflected on his hydrogen journey and his work in storage at Susy CDT. Arul Muragun talked about his work at National Physical Laboratory and also thanked the Supergen for matchmaking as he met his wife at a Supergen meeting.

Our next speaker, Professor Valeska Ting (University of Bristol) highlighted how the Supergens had helped her throughout her career in building links and collaborations and provided examples of her work in hydrogen storage in nanoporous materials. Our final speaker was Professor Henrietta Langmi University of Pretoria who gave a comprehensive overview of her work in metal-organic frameworks.

Session 3: Advances in Hydrogen Production, Storage, Distribution and Safety

Our final session centred on policy, system modelling, education, and national programmes. We heard from Sheila Samsatli, from the University of Bath who is developing large, high fidelity optimisation models for whole-system value chains to achieve net zero, which aim to protect the environment, ecosystem services and biodiversity.

Professor Paul Dodds from UCL, gave a comprehensive overview of the challenges from a policy perspective facing hydrogen in heat, transport, markets and energy systems. Our final two speakers of the day were Professor Martin Owen Jones from Science Technology Facilities Council who gave us an insight into energy materials, and Fiona Landy who talked passionately about green hydrogen deployment in Scotland to achieve net zero.

Session 4: System Modelling, Education, National Programmes and Science Outreach

The day finished with a virtual trip to the H2FC Supergen beach to catch up with former colleagues. If you missed out on the event, you can watch all the videos on the event webpage.

More information
See the event page for a full programme and videos

The Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (H2FC) Supergen Hub is funded by the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, as part of the government’s Sustainable Power Generation and Supply initiative. It was set up in 2012 to address the key challenges facing the hydrogen and fuel cell sector as it strives to provide cost competitive, low carbon technologies in a more secure UK energy landscape.