Comprehensive Hydrogen Injection Solution Enables Decarbonization of the Natural Gas Grid

by , , | May 9, 2024 | Event | 0 comments

Hydrogen is crucial for the European Union’s energy transition, but to meet its targets, the industry needs to scale up production quickly and ensure there is the necessary infrastructure in place to provide transportation and distribution. The existing natural gas (NG) network presents the best asset to achieve this target. At the Emerson Exchange EMEA 2024 in Düsseldorf, Emerson’s Florencia Larghi, sustainability and decarbonization business development manager, and Attilio Lepore, natural gas sales director in Italy, introduced a comprehensive and innovative solution for injecting hydrogen into natural gas pipelines.

As outlined in the REPowerEU plan, the Hydrogen Accelerator Program aims to utilize 20 million tons of renewable hydrogen in the EU by 2030. A critical factor in achieving this accelerated hydrogen use is establishing the necessary infrastructure to connect hydrogen supply and demand. It is not always possible to produce hydrogen where it is needed; therefore, pipelines are required for efficient transportation, with injection stations strategically placed.

There are several challenges, risks and uncertainties when using the NG grid to transport hydrogen:

  • There is a lack of legislation and regulations relating to the process of injecting hydrogen into the natural gas grid.
  • Significant uncertainty surrounds the lower calorific value of hydrogen compared to natural gas and the potential impact on combustion efficiency.
  • Users are concerned about safety. This includes emissions from their equipment and embrittlement and leakages due to a lack of compatibility.

Hydrogen has different properties to natural gas, so to increase reliability it is essential to consider equipment and materials compatibility. The injection station design and all components need to be carefully selected. Emerson´s Integrated Solution team has the knowledge and expertise to provide complete engineering design of hydrogen injection stations according to specific customer needs. That also includes construction, assembly and lifecycle services.

Emerson turnkey solutions for injecting hydrogen into the natural gas grid are equipped with pressure regulators for stable and precise pressure output, custody transfer meters and pressure and temperature sensors. Flow control valves adjust the natural gas/hydrogen ratio, while a gas chromatograph validates hydrogen percentage. In addition, accurate odorant injection must be ensured, along with a safety system to protect people and installations. Finally, a customized control system manages the whole station in real-time.

Industry standards for renewable gases in NG grid
CEN Technical Committee 234/Working Group 6 is providing functional standards for the gas sector for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of gas infrastructure. This will standardize the field of systems, devices, and connections for the production, storage, transport, and distribution, measurement, and use of hydrogen from renewable energy sources and other sources. Current developments have split into two directions. The first is focused on a new standard related to injection stations. This includes general requirements and specific requirements regarding the injection of biomethane and the injection of hydrogen. The second is a revision of the EN 12186: 2014 standard, which is related to the functional requirements of gas infrastructure (pressure regulating stations for transmission and distribution) with the inclusion of smart technologies.

Innovation in hydrogen injection and blending
In Europe, Emerson is collaborating with several entities that contribute additional expertise to the challenge of blending hydrogen with natural gas. An example is a partnership with the EnTranCe center of expertise in the Netherlands, which provides a learning and practice-oriented knowledge community aimed at achieving a robust, resilient and sustainable energy supply. Emerson and EnTranCe are currently working on a project to test odorant injection systems for use with pure hydrogen.

Emerson is also collaborating with the Italian gas distributor INRETE. The Asset Readiness Project is focused on injecting hydrogen into the natural gas network to assess the impact on a small community. Emerson has provided a complete skid for pressure regulation, flow metering, and analysis of the blended gas. In the UK, to support the HyDeploy project, Emerson has provided a chromatograph to Keele University that is being used to analyze blended gas.

At its in-house laboratory in McKinney, USA, Emerson performs comprehensive studies and analysis of the compatibility and suitability of materials used in valves and instruments. These studies also examine issues such as hydrogen leakage and material embrittlement when equipment is exposed to hydrogen flow.

One of the primary advantages of using equipment provided by Emerson is that, despite the lack of specific standards and regulations related to hydrogen injection into the natural gas grid, internal material compatibility and performance analysis has been verified and approved by third-party certification company Bureau Veritas. Emerson’s BM6X Series Slam-Shut valve has already been certified for use with up to 100% hydrogen. Emerson is actively working to extend this certification across its entire natural gas equipment portfolio.

Emerson’s integrated solution for hydrogen injection into the NG grid.

Solutions such as Emerson’s integrated hydrogen injection systems are helping to overcome some of the challenges faced when blending hydrogen into the NG grid. But broader digitalization and network upgrades are also key to enable the transition to renewable gases. When renewable gases are available, they must be prioritized over traditional natural gas due to the reduced carbon emissions. This is achieved through the installation of automatic switching and control systems at the injection stations. These controls can be operated both locally on-site and remotely. It is important that the control logic is customized for each network depending on its specific characteristics. These digitalization solutions for use with the natural gas grid are available from Emerson.

To learn more about Emerson’s sustainability and hydrogen initiatives, please visit www.emerson.com/en-us/esg/sustainability/automation/hydrogen-value-chain/blending.

 

 

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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