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The World’s First Hydrogen Brick

The World’s First Hydrogen Brick
30 May 2024

Could replacing natural gas with hydrogen in the brick-making process be the key to transforming the construction industry’s carbon footprint?

The London Science Museum is currently home to the world’s first 100 per cent hydrogen-fired bricks, in the form of a simple, modernist-style bench. It forms part of its “Energy Revolution: The Adani Green Energy Gallery”, an exhibition examining energy systems' past, present and future. The gallery explores one of the greatest challenges society faces today: how to create energy more sustainably, to limit the dangerous effects of climate change.

Hydrogen is expected to play a significant role in this new sustainable energy mix. The UK’s first-ever hydrogen strategy launched in 2021 and set out the case for a hydrogen economy, citing existing projects such as the Acorn Hydrogen project, which is taking advantage of existing infrastructure to reform North Sea natural gas into low-carbon hydrogen.

The Michelmersh Group, the manufacturer of the hydrogen-fire brick on display at the London Science Museum, is on a mission to make a case for replacing natural gas with hydrogen in the brick-making process. The UK brick manufacturing industry produces 1.9 billion bricks a year, in an energy-intensive process using high-temperature heat from mains gas.

The group was awarded funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to conduct a feasibility study. The Michelmersh Group’s HyBrick demonstrates between 81-84 per cent less carbon emissions from 3 green hydrogen firings vs natural gas. Clay bricks have zero operational carbon, so transitioning to hydrogen firing could significantly reduce clay bricks' embodied carbon by over 60 per cent. 

The bricks can be viewed in the museum’s free object gallery, in the West Hall on Level 2.

Sarah Le Gresley, Innovation Director for the Michelmersh Group said: “We have worked with the science museum for over a year to safeguard these products which will be on display for the next decade or more. We hope the exhibition will inspire the next generation to think about innovation and sustainability simultaneously, and we believe it is a wonderful conclusion to our trials, as we continue to explore the many options we can undertake to manufacture low-carbon clay products for the future.”

Watch the Video



Picture: a photograph of the hydrogen brick bench in-situ at the London Science Museum. Image Credit: Michelmersh Group

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 30 May 2024


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