Innovation That Matters

Natural gas pipelines could be used to transport green hydrogen | Photo source Canva

Re-purposing natural gas pipelines to transport hydrogen

Agriculture & Energy

A project in Hungary is exploring whether existing natural gas infrastructure can kickstart the hydrogen economy

Spotted: For the past 70 years, 5,874 kilometres of pipeline have transported natural gas across Hungary. Natural gas is a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming and will be phased out as the world transitions to an economy based on clean energy. This raises an important question: what is to be done with all the pipeline infrastructure once natural gas is no longer part of the energy mix?

At the same time, hydrogen, one of the most promising clean fuels for the future, currently lacks infrastructure for storage or transportation. This raises an intriguing possibility – what if existing natural gas infrastructure was used to transport hydrogen? Hungary’s natural gas network operator FGSZ, is exploring this option with DNV Group, an independent expert in assurance and risk management that has specialist expertise in hydrogen.

Specifically, DNV will assess the possibility of transporting hydrogen through Hungary’s DN600 pipeline and its attendant valve stations. The work will consider a range of scenarios and will look into the possibility of transporting both 100 per cent hydrogen gas, and blends of hydrogen and natural gas.

There are several ways in which hydrogen could be transported – as a liquid, in high-pressure containers, or in the form of ammonia or methanol. But pipelines are attractive as they are low-cost and high capacity. Indeed, the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy reports that there are approximately 1,600 miles of specialist hydrogen pipelines in the US. Most of the hydrogen in use today is ‘grey hydrogen’ derived from natural gas, and pipelines are clustered around hydrogen end-users such as petroleum refineries and chemical plants.

In the future, production of ‘green hydrogen’, which is produced when an electric current generated from renewable energy is run through water, is expected to ramp up. The applications this hydrogen could be used for, such as transportation and home heating, will require hydrogen to be dispersed more widely. This is why gas networks, with their extensive reach, are attractive.

Other hydrogen innovations recently spotted by Springwise include an island dedicated to green hydrogen, a method for storing hydrogen underground, and off-grid hydrogen generation technology.

Written By: Matthew Hempstead



Download PDF