Will Hydrogen help keep Gas pipelines flowing at full capacity?

As we transition from fossil fuels to cleaner and renewable energy sources, Hydrogen may flow alongside Natural Gas throughout the extensive Natural Gas Pipeline networks.  In this post I will briefly describe some of the challenges, opportunities, and real-world experiments involving transportation of gaseous hydrogen in natural gas pipelines.   Initial safety concerns, especially with the embrittling of the steel pipelines, have proven to be less of a concern, especially with lower concentrations of hydrogen, but this is an ongoing area of research.  Existing natural gas pipelines can support hydrogen concentrations up to 15%, however, to increase the hydrogen concentrations further, this requires more substantial investment including the replacement of pumps and compressors, along with measurement and control units.  Nevertheless, the cost of converting a natural gas pipeline to support pure hydrogen transportation is still substantially cheaper than building an entirely new hydrogen pipeline.   There are numerous ongoing studies of the impact hydrogen has on the pipeline’s steel pipes and fittings, potentially reducing the pipeline’s serviceable life.  Another safety concern is the monitoring of leak detection.  This is even more critical with hydrogen because hydrogen molecules are smaller and more explosive than natural gas.   When considering a full-scale… continue reading