UK Government Study : Preliminary Assessments of Industrial Sites for Hydrogen Integration

By July 5, 2023 3   min read  (563 words)

July 5, 2023 |

uk government study preliminary assessments of industrial sites for hydrogen integration e1688567493754

A summary of a study of 7 industrial sites to understand the safety, feasibility, cost and impacts for these sites to switch from natural gas to 100% hydrogen for heat.

This is a summary report of a study which aimed to understand the safety, feasibility, cost and impacts for 7 industrial sites to switch from natural gas to 100% hydrogen for heating. The volunteer industrial sites:

  • are located away from industrial clusters
  • use natural gas to meet most of their energy demand
  • will likely be most impacted by decisions on the future of the natural gas grid

The report was published in order to share its findings with other industrial sites and wider industry, in particular those considering hydrogen as an option for decarbonisation.

Note that:

  • some work was carried out on a non-hydrogen alternative energy source, but to a lesser level of detail and not to determine the optimal decarbonisation solution
  • the findings do not apply to other end user environments because of differences between these environments and the consumption of gas

The study was commissioned in 2022 by the former Department for Business and Energy, and undertaken by AECOM and their safety sub-contractor ESR.

The evidence will inform strategic decisions in 2026 on the role of low carbon hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas heating.

The following conclusions were drawn from the preliminary survey and safety assessment for the use of hydrogen in industry:

  1. Current natural gas pipelines, designed for natural gas’s volumetric flows, will be inadequate for hydrogen service and will necessitate replacement.
  2. The current routing of natural gas is not typically suitable or ideal for hydrogen. Pipelines should be re-routed to minimize internal pipe runs, and pressure reduction stations should be relocated externally. If possible, these stations should be set to 100 millibar or lower to minimize the pressure of hydrogen and sources of leaks within buildings.
  3. There is minimal to no electrical equipment on the site with an ATEX rating of IIC-T1 or better.
  4. Ventilation, in terms of Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) and Safe Relief 25 (SR25), is inadequate in several locations for hydrogen service. However, this issue can be resolved with relatively minor modifications to increase ventilation.
  5. The transition to hydrogen fuel will require some system modifications and personnel training. Standard Operating Practices, Risk Assessments and Method Statements will need to be updated, and staff will need training on hydrogen hazards.
  6. The economics of conversion to hydrogen, including the initial capital expenditure and uncertainty around hydrogen pricing, could pose barriers to implementation.

Further Considerations:

The majority of the site’s natural gas pipework does not have the necessary capacity for hydrogen service, and there are very few, if any, equipment items on the site with the appropriate ATEX rating. For other sites, the capital cost of transitioning to hydrogen may be less if the required modifications are not as extensive as they are for this site.

Further studies on switching to hydrogen at similar sites should involve more engagement with roaster and burner Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), additional refinement of cost estimate basis, more extensive analysis on explosion relief on combustion equipment, and investigation of the efficiency impacts on drying processes due to the additional water vapor resulting from hydrogen combustion.

Read the Entire Report: Future of hydrogen in industry: initial industrial site surveys – summary report



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