World’s first hydrogen-powered crematorium fires up in net zero push

Worthing Crematorium
The University of Brighton will be monitoring air quality during the trial at Worthing Crematorium

The world’s first hydrogen-powered crematorium is being tested in Worthing, West Sussex, in an effort to cut carbon emissions.

About 470,000 people are cremated each year in Britain’s 300 crematoria, the majority of which are powered by natural gas.

For every gas cremation, approximately 245kg of carbon is released into the atmosphere - adding up to a total of 115,150 tonnes each year.

To try to lower emissions, the University of Brighton is working with Worthing Borough Council on a four-week trial which will see one of three gas-fired crematoria converted to hydrogen power.

Abigail Dombey, HyCrem project manager at Net Zero Associates, which developed the original funding application, said: “The transition to net zero will involve all areas of life, including how we deal with death.

“We need to decarbonise cremations, so it’s incredibly exciting to be part of this project which will identify how we can do so - and is even a world first.”

Part of the new hydrogen-powered crematorium
It is hoped the technology will help reduce carbon emissions

Many crematoria in Europe are moving to electric systems, and Huntingdon Town Council recently installed two electric cremators, with other local authorities expected to follow suit in the near future.

Electric cremators release around 90 per cent less carbon than a conventional gas cremator, with only carbon from the combustion of the body and the coffin entering the air. It is expected that hydrogen-powered cremators will show similar results.

The Cemetery Development Services Group estimates that to offset the carbon emissions of Greater London’s crematoria, around 134,000 acres of new tree seedlings would need to be planted.

‘Highest quality air standards’

Worthing is hoping to be carbon neutral by 2030, and the University of Brighton will be monitoring air quality during the project.

Dr Kirsty Smallbone, Dean of the School of Applied Sciences at the university, said: “We need to decarbonise all aspects of our lives, from the cradle to the grave. Removing the reliance on fossil fuels by switching to hydrogen will be a key part of this.

“By monitoring air quality, we can ensure that the transition to hydrogen power is not only environmentally beneficial but also maintains the highest air quality standards.”

The new process will use green hydrogen, which is produced using electricity from renewable sources.

Unlike natural gas, hydrogen does not give off CO2 emissions when burnt. Green hydrogen is also produced without any carbon emissions.

The project is funded with a £1,168,500 grant awarded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.