Hydrogen. It’s green and it’s efficient. It’s a fundamental part of the Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA)’s carbon net zero plans for the foodservice equipment industry. Currently the Association is working with BEIS (the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) on the government’s strategy for replacing natural gas with hydrogen in commercial kitchen appliances. However, FEA has been surprised by some of the myths surrounding the subject, especially the two most prevalent: that hydrogen isn’t safe, and that it affects the taste of food.
Here FEA busts those two myths:
- Safety concerns – OK, understandable, given hydrogen’s reputation. However, the BSI (British Standards Institution) has published PAS 4444:2020, which covers the development and construction of hydrogen-fired gas appliances, and the Institution is working on further guidance. Provided manufacturers and installers comply with legislation then the safety requirements are already being met, in the same way that GAR (Gas Appliance Regulation) and the UK equivalent are used for existing gas products.Detailed health and safety reports on the use of hydrogen in cooking appliances can be found on the hy4heat website (www.hy4heat.info). There are no safety issues with the use of low pressure hydrogen as a replacement for current natural gas and propane.
- Impact on the taste of food – this is a classic misinformed urban tale. The claim that using hydrogen to cook food affects the taste is both ridiculous and unsubstantiated. Are chips cooked in a hydrogen fryer going to taste different to those in a natural gas fryer? The by-product of hydrogen gas cooking is water vapour – so even with hydrogen gas grills there would be no taint.
Several FEA members are currently working on developing hydrogen-fired gas appliances. “It’s vital that we switch to hydrogen in the future,” says Steve Hobbs, chair of FEA. “Consequently, government needs to support manufacturers in the UK and ensure that they have a level playing field with their European counterparts, for example by matching standards and regulations. As several speakers at the recent FEA Industry Conference noted, the UK is a world leader when it comes to meeting carbon net zero targets. Hydrogen-powered commercial cooking equipment is another area where we can and should be a pioneer.”
Some manufacturers have been working on hydrogen models since 2015. FEA expects to hear more on the subject at COP26, which should trigger the project.
The Foodservice Equipment Association is the independent, authoritative voice of the foodservice equipment industry, representing nearly 200 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment – from utensils to full kitchen schemes. For more information on FEA visit www.fea.org.uk.