Overall CO2 emissions from UK brick making exceeds 1 million tonnes per year, and if the Sussex trial is successful, replacing natural gas with hydrogen in the brick-firing process could cut emissions from the industry by 80%.
Michelmersh currently produces 125 million bricks a year (out of a UK annual total of 1.9 billion), and production of so-called Hybricks will be tested at the company's site in Danehill near Haywards Heath. Hybricks will be made using green electrolytic hydrogen - hydrogen that has been produced using renewable energy. The prototype Hybricks will then be tested under different heat and weather conditions to compare their performance to bricks made using natural gas.
Dr Kevin Wyche, Director of the Centre for Earth Observation Science, Environment and Public Health at University of Brighton, said: “Achieving net-zero is vital if we are to arrest the changes occurring in our atmosphere and to climate. To do this we need to begin to de-carbonise our industry, removing the reliance on fossil fuels. Switching to hydrogen in processes such as brick making will be a key part of this.”