The first phase of an important new research project that will help develop the distribution infrastructure for clean fuels in the UK has got underway. This falls under NEL’s Flow Programme remit, part of which involves projects to unlock the potential of non-fossil fuels, such as hydrogen, for industry and society.
The work is part of a wider project called H21, funded by Northern Gas Networks and Cadent Gas through a Network Innovation Allowance awarded from Government. NGN and Cadent run gas distribution networks that transport gas to millions of homes across the UK. H21 is being led by the companies and aims to demonstrate the feasibility of converting the existing natural gas network in Northern England to utilise hydrogen in place of natural gas (methane).
“This is a programme of work to determine if the existing installed domestic gas meter stock could be used to meter hydrogen accurately,” says Head of R&D, Martin Hanton. “Accurate measurement will be crucial if hydrogen becomes widely used as a fuel, since flowmeters will be used to bill customers for the amount of gas consumed. And perhaps more important, is that the hydrogen can be metered safely and reliably.”
“We will be bringing together our expertise in clean-fuels and meter testing in this project,” Martin adds. “We expect that it will have an enabling impact on the development of the country’s hydrogen infrastructure.”
The first phase of the NEL research will involve the design of a rig to allow the necessary meter testing to be done. This phase will take about six months to complete. Once the test rig is designed, the subsequent phases of the project will include its construction, followed by the roll out of the testing programme itself.
“There is currently no suitable infrastructure in the UK able to do the necessary work,” explains Martin. “The planned facility will be used to understand and quantify the effect of hydrogen on meter performance. It will also be used to investigate the safety and technical challenges involved.”
“This is an exciting project for us as the use of hydrogen for domestic heating is one potential way to significantly reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions,” says Marc MacDonald, who is the technical lead on the project. “The area where NEL's experience will be especially valuable is the design of an accurate reference measurement system traceable to National Standards.”
For more details, contact Martin Hanton.