Research is now underway in Teesside that will collect key evidence about the suitability of the existing gas network to transport hydrogen as part of the H21 project.
On 22 April, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) announced that its study, using a network of existing natural gas mains to carry out standard operational procedures under 100% hydrogen conditions, had commenced. The evidence gathered will then be used to understand any changes needed for the potential conversion of the gas distribution network to transport clean hydrogen in the future.
The site being used is an area of disused land where 70 homes once stood and the gas pipes that supplied them remain intact though crucially, have been disconnected from the rest of the network. Two hydrogen boilers have also been installed as part of the project, connected to the network and the hydrogen odorised to smell the same as natural gas for the first time. NGN is set to spend several months at the site, gathering evidence and furthering understanding of a potential conversion of the gas network, before then restoring the site to its former state upon completion of its work.
Neil Travers, H21 Project Manager for NGN, said that they believed the research to mark a “world first”. Travers added: “There are many different procedures carried out on the gas network on a day to day basis and it’s essential we understand how these may need to be adapted to ensure hydrogen can be delivered as safely and reliably as natural gas. Extensive research has already been completed off-grid but the difference at the South Bank is that we are using older gas mains, as are typical in many streets across the UK, for the first time.”