Technical Director, Kiwa Gastec
Mark Crowther read Chemistry at Magdalen College Oxford before joining the Coal Research Establishment, where he worked on coal liquefaction and gasification. Later, he became head of British Coal domestic and commercial technology developments, but foreseeing the challenges of this fuel, on privatisation in 1994 created Gastec at CRE Ltd. This small company soon developed a reputation as a large scale auditor of the in-situ behaviour of many products designed to save energy and reduce carbon emissions. Examples of such performance surveys and field trials included mCHP, condensing boilers, air and ground source heat pumps and very recently biomass boilers. It was during this time that Mark realised that the combi boiler is probably Europe’s most popular heating device and that decarbonisation of its fuel (entailing the use of hydrogen) had an elegant simplicity. Simultaneously, this could solve the inevitable intermittency of renewable electrical supplies. So in February 2012 he gave a lecture to DECC’s Scientific Advisor (the late Prof McKay) and his colleagues, where he proposed repurposing local gas distribution grids to hydrogen. This was well received, leading to the HyHouse study, where the dispersion of hydrogen from a leak in a house was studied in detail for the first time. Subsequently Kiwa Gastec (as it had become) acted as main contractor for the NGN Leeds H21 project. This was the world’s full scale design study to convert a city to hydrogen. Mark has subsequently been appointed technical lead of the Government’s Hy4heat project which is working with appliance manufacturers to launch new domestic and commercial hydrogen appliances and is supporting SGN in their FEED study in Scotland. This plans to use an existing 7MW wind turbine to produce hydrogen which would be used in over 300 houses and thus effectively decarbonise them completely.