Assessing Hydrogen Compatibility in the Natural Gas Infrastructure

The detailed consequences of mixing hydrogen with natural gas throughout the North American natural gas distribution, transmission, and storage system is important for maintaining a safe and reliable energy network.

GTI Energy researchers are supporting hydrogen blending demonstrations for utilities across the nation and coordinating industry participation and funding in National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)’s HyBlendTM project to create publicly accessible tools to characterize the opportunities, costs, and risks of blending hydrogen in the gas infrastructure. Assessments being performed of hydrogen blending will provide valuable information on its effects on safety, leakage, durability, and material integrity. GTI Energy is playing an important role by taking the findings from this program and showing pipeline stakeholders how their operations, maintenance, and inspection procedures may need to adapt.

GTI Energy is assessing the corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement mechanisms associated with the addition of hydrogen and looking at the impact of hydrogen blends on end use equipment. A select number of local natural gas distribution companies, with guidance from GTI Energy, have begun pilot demonstration projects with hydrogen blend rates targeted at up to 15% in well controlled systems serving up to several thousand customers.

Researchers conducted an evaluation of the effects of hydrogen blending in natural gas on metallic and non-metallic material properties and operational safety through a series of laboratory testing funded by Operations Technology Development (OTD).

The work assessed the material integrity and operational compatibility of a bounded natural gas pipeline system and its components with a 5% hydrogen-blended fuel, to help determine if any system upgrades might be necessary to reduce risk and support gas interchangeability.

Safety factors for hydrogen and natural gas systems have been established along with the creation of engineering tools to allow an integrity assessment and a safety margin determination of hydrogen blended gas use for a range of system parameters and conditions.

GTI Energy previously completed in-depth hydrogen blend studies for a consortium of natural gas operators as well as the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. These projects focused on the life cycle assessment of hydrogen blending as well as the safety, leakage, durability, integrity, end use, and environmental impacts.

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