A crematorium has become the first in the world to trial a switch to hydrogen energy.

The pioneering Worthing HyCrem project involves one of the three cremators at the site being powered exclusively with green hydrogen for a four-week period.

Cremation is an energy-intensive process, with virtually all crematoria currently reliant on natural gas.

Worthing Borough Council said its ambition is to become a carbon-neutral local authority by 2030 and a net zero borough by 2045 but the crematorium has the largest carbon footprint of its sites.

Targets were set after the council declared a climate emergency in 2019.

The HyCrem trial is the latest in a line of projects introduced to help the council achieve its  targets including the Worthing Heat Network, Trees For Streets, the Sussex Bay initiative, the roll-out of public electric charging points and active travel initiatives like the Donkey Bike scheme.

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The new process at the crematorium uses green hydrogen, which is produced using electricity from renewable sources. Unlike natural gas, hydrogen does not give off carbon emissions when burnt. Green hydrogen is also produced without any carbon emissions.

Total project funding of £1,168,500 was awarded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero through its £55 million Industrial Fuel Switching Competition, which forms part of the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP). NZIP provides backing for innovative low-carbon technologies and infrastructure.

The HyCrem project has been in development for over a year and is a joint effort, with FT Pipeline Systems acting as lead partner to Worthing Borough Council. DFW Europe, Net Zero Associates, Ricardo-AEA, PJ Combustion Solutions, Abbott Risk Consulting, Safety Monitors and GeoPura are also all involved with the project.

The University of Brighton will be monitoring the air quality throughout the four-week trial and will identify any changes in emissions. A business case will be developed to permanently reduce emissions at the crematorium using the most appropriate technology once the findings of the project have been evaluated.

Councillor Sophie Cox, Worthing's cabinet member for young people, communities and climate crisis, said: “We're thrilled to be part of this world-leading project, which will help us and other local authorities deepen our understanding on how to use technology to reduce carbon emissions at energy-intensive buildings like crematoria.”