Details of a feasibility study contributing to ongoing assessments that look at use of existing UK gas transmission and distribution networks to transport hydrogen has been released.
On 20 October, Costain said the study marked the first in a programme of work to evaluate, develop and demonstrate the concept of hydrogen “deblending” where proven oil and gas process technologies are used to separate the hydrogen and natural gas streams at scale to provide consumer optionality in gas supply to meet different customer requirements. Hydrogen deblending allows for a varying mix of hydrogen and natural gas to flow through the network, before then separating into two gases, allowing a controlled blend to be supplied to the customer.
The advantage of this is that hydrogen can be supplied to those who are ready and prevented from being received by those who are not.
Costain noted that blending hydrogen into the existing natural gas pipeline network to relatively low concentrations – less than 20% – has already been proposed as a means of transporting hydrogen without significantly increasing the risks associated with utilisation of the gas blend in end-use devices, overall public safety, or the durability and integrity of the existing natural gas pipeline network. Deblending, in contrast, could provide a means to transition from a 20% to 100% hydrogen network, providing customers with the options for either pure hydrogen, hydrogen/natural gas blends, or natural gas to meet demand in industry, heating, transport and green power generation.
It could also help to avoid the cost, which is estimated at billions of pounds, of building dedicated hydrogen pipelines or other expensive delivery infrastructure during the early market development phase.
The study is funded through the Network Innovation Allowance available for gas and electricity network operators to fund innovative projects which have the potential to deliver benefits to network customers. It is aiming to provide critical evidence to the technical and commercial feasibility of using deblending to support the transition of the UK National Transmission System and Gas Distribution Networks to a 100% hydrogen gas network. The study marks the first step in developing the deblending concept, with future stages to involve further technical evidence gathering and construction of a demonstration facility to prove the concept.