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Reace Edwards, who is 22 and from Peterlee, in County Durham, is now studying for her PhD at Thornton Science Park in Cheshire, exploring how hydrogen can be used to decarbonise gas in the North West of England.

As well as a first-class engineering student, Reace is also an award-winning one – having attained a top regional prize (an SCI Liverpool and North West Group student award) for her excellent academic achievement.

Her doctoral studies are being funded by Costain, the smart infrastructure solutions company. It is part of a collaboration research project on decarbonising gas that has been signed between Costain and the University of Chester. The two organisations have joined together to tackle future energy challenges in a hydrogen energy project which will be based at Thornton Science Park. The University’s Departments of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Natural Sciences are involved in the collaboration, through the Faculty of Science and Engineering and the Thornton Energy Research Institute, alongside Costain’s teams in energy.

Reace’s research project will include adopting an interdisciplinary framework to consider the infrastructure requirements for the region to realise the decarbonising gas agenda. More specifically, it will consider proposals for a Liverpool to Manchester Hydrogen Cluster and the development of carbon capture and storage infrastructure associated with the depleting Hamilton field in the East Irish Sea.

Reace explains more: “The aims of this project will be to assess the decarbonisation of gas in North West England through a hydrogen network by critically evaluating and researching four major areas of concern: science, regulation, stakeholders and resources. One of the things that excites me most about this study, is the chance I have to explore the world of political sciences and how that interrelates with my field of engineering.

“My biggest aspiration when starting my degree was, and still is, to become a Chartered Chemical Engineer.  I believe this studentship will grant me the relevant skills and experience required to build a portfolio of such a standard to achieve this goal. I’m thrilled to be researching such a topical subject and I’m very excited to see the methods the United Kingdom adopts to meet its 2050 carbon emissions target. I am grateful for the opportunities provided by both the University and Costain and I look forward to seeing what the next three years brings.”

Gerard Shore, Oil and Gas Sector Director for Costain, said: “We are delighted to be working with Reace on this important research into the decarbonising of gas through a hydrogen network. The enthusiasm Reace has demonstrated for driving forward the hydrogen agenda in the North West of England is fantastic. We believe the collaboration between Costain and the University of Chester will result in leading edge thinking regarding the technical and regulatory actions required to establish the hydrogen economy in the region.”

Professor Joe Howe, Executive Director of the Thornton Energy Research Institute UK said: “My colleague Dr Carolina Font Palma and I are very happy about securing this project and, along with Costain, we are extremely pleased to appoint Reace, and to be her PhD supervisors. We believe that this project is a great opportunity, leading the way in finding cleaner, greener sources of energy and allowing us to bring together academic and industrial knowledge and experience. I am looking forward to seeing Reace’s research come to fruition, and to see what we can achieve in partnership with Costain, for the benefit of future energy systems, over the next five years.”

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