A partnership, led by DNV GL, has investigated minimum purity levels in a study to examine the feasibility of hydrogen being used as a low carbon and safe energy source in the existing UK distribution network.
The UK consumed more than 7.6 billion cubic feet of gas in 2018, with 22 million homes connected to the nation’s gas grid. As the British government works towards a target of net zero carbon emissions in 2050, it is increasing investment to better understand the potential effect of lower-carbon gases on the country’s gas infrastructure.
DNV GL was appointed to investigate hydrogen purity and flame colourisation as part of the Hy4Heat programme, commissioned by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to assess the feasibility of using hydrogen for heat in UK homes and businesses. The programme aims to establish whether it is technically possible, safe and convenient to replace methane with hydrogen in residential and commercial areas.
DNV GL was supported by The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Element Energy, The Health and Safety Executive Laboratory (HSL), and Loughborough University on the project.
The partnership has now delivered phase one of the project on the varying hydrogen purity levels available in the UK and the potential impacts and cost effectiveness of introducing hydrogen at these purity levels into the distribution network. It has resulted in a hydrogen minimum purity specification for use by the Hy4Heat programme to ensure that minimum hydrogen purity levels are maintained to precise points in the distribution network to improve efficiency and give optimum performance.
The new hydrogen minimum purity specification developed by DNV GL and its partners is suitable for the majority of end-use applications in the UK such as boilers, cookers and fires. It is based upon considerations from existing purity recommendations for natural gas, possible new impurities from hydrogen production processes, and extensive feedback from stakeholders. The specification is built around published technical evidence to give the British public and businesses confidence that hydrogen is a safe and viable option to reduce the country’s climate emissions.
Phase two of this work, to be delivered in Q2 2020, investigates the need for a flame colourant, the ease at which it can be added, and potential implications related to that process. Hydrogen burns with a flame which is hard to detect with the naked eye and this work will determine if there is a requirement for adding a colourant to hydrogen to ensure safe burning and user acceptance, and to investigate the optimum solution if a colourant is required.
Hari Vamadevan, Regional Manager, UK and West Africa, DNV GL - Oil & Gas says: “The case for investigating lower carbon alternatives to the UK’s natural gas energy supply is gaining momentum. Decarbonization is rising up the agenda in the boardroom of British businesses and in society in general. Hydrogen is a practical and feasible option to decarbonize the gas that the UK consumes for heating. Supported by carbon capture and storage, it holds significant potential to lower carbon emissions and is a viable alternative to natural gas. The work that BEIS has commissioned is a positive step forward.”