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Injection of hydrogen into the German gas distribution grid from power-to-gas demo plant

4 December 2013

ITM Power, with its partners Mainova Aktiengesellschaft and NRM Netzdienste Rhein-Main GmbH, has injected hydrogen into the German gas distribution network from the Thüga Group’s power-to-gas demonstration plant. (Earlier post.) The ITM Power rapid response electrolyzer plant has been delivered and commissioned ahead of schedule and the compliance and permitting work has been completed to enable the incorporation of hydrogen via the compliant mixing plant.

The system worked as planned, so much so that we will go into trial operation in the very near future ahead of final commissioning at the start of 2014.

—Michael Riechel, Member of the Board of Thüga AG

By the end of 2016, the partners will have gained experience of how the system works under real-world conditions. The project partners are badenova AG & Co. KG, Erdgas Mittelsachsen GmbH, Energieversorgung Mittelrhein GmbH, erdgas schwaben gmbh, ESWE Versorgungs AG, Gasversorgung Westerwald GmbH, Mainova Aktiengesellschaft, Stadtwerke Ansbach GmbH, Stadtwerke Bad Hersfeld GmbH, Thüga Energienetze GmbH, WEMAG AG, e-rp GmbH and Thüga AG, which acts as project coordinator.

The operational phase will be accompanied by scientific partners, whose involvement is being funded by the Hessian Ministry for the Environment, Energy, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

The core of the system is an ITM Power proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer. A gas mixing plant ensures that the proportion of hydrogen in the natural gas stream does not exceed 2 vol%, the technically permissible maximum value when a natural gas filling station is situated in the local distribution network.

The electrolyzer supplies the hydrogen-methane mixture at the same pressure as the gas distribution network—3.5 bar—thus avoiding the need for a compressor and saving costs.

The plant is located on the premises of Mainova AG in Schielestraße in Frankfurt am Main. The project partners decided to deploy a PEM system, as this technology, in comparison with alkaline systems, uses water rather than a potassium hydroxide solution, and is therefore more environmentally friendly. In addition, the system can respond more quickly to changes in the electrical load.

A further advantage is the unit’s compact design (2.45m high, 6m long, 3.30m wide, weighing 10 tons). The power consumption of the electrolyzer is 315 kW. It produces about 60 cubic meters per hour of hydrogen and thus in one hour can feed 3,000 cubic meters of hydrogen-enriched natural gas into the network.

Following the first phase of this project, the partners will consider a second project, in which hydrogen will be generated and combined with carbon dioxide to form synthetic methane to be directly injected and stored in the natural gas grid.

December 4, 2013 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

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To use surplus Wind/solar electricity and unwanted CO2 from coal and NG power plants, to produce synthetic methane could become an effective way to store clean energy, while reducing GHG.

Ideal for Germany, where more and more wind/solar energy is produced and coal-NG power plants are used.

I have Many questions:

What is the effect of adding h2 to methane - is it just like "more methane" or does it generate "better methane" ?
i.e. does it burn better than Ch4.

Next: Who pays for this - how much do they pay for it - the same as wholesale CH4 on an energy basis ?

Does it cause H2 embrittlement ?
Does it leak out through the pipes, or does the 2% limit prevent this ?

Why is the limit 2% - is it to prevent burner problems, or embrittlement or leakage (or something else) ?

What is the best use of excess H2 ?
I thought they reformed it from methane (to make H2 commercially).

What is the best use of excess electricity - that is the main question.

"Hythane" used to promote better combustion of methane in engines is around 30% H2 (balance methane).  2% H2 will probably do about nothing.

60 standard cubic meters per hour @ 0.0899 kg/scm and 141.8 MJ/scm is 765 MJ/hr or 212 kW.  This electrolyzer is about 67% efficient, so that's 1/3 losses off the top.  Since the product has approximately the same properties as methane, it doesn't have any really different uses either.

At the new 2012 EEG wind FIT payment rate of €0.0893/kWh, the hydrogen output by this thing costs roughly €38.80 per million BTU just for the input power.  This is more than twice the cost of Russian natural gas, and it doesn't include amortization or maintenance.

As I keep saying:  if you have to ask how much an all-renewable energy system costs, you can't afford it.

Aside:  The announcement linked above itself has a link to "file:///C:\Users\tim.metcalfe\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary%20Internet%20Files\Content.Outlook\0B3BZR3J\www.energie-und-wende.de", showing that the webmaster is about as smart as a box of rocks.

Hi Mahonj:
In depth study here:
http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/51995.pdf

So to summarise:
Embrittlement issues can be dealt with, pretty straightforward engineering depending on how much hydrogen you want.
The percentage can be readily increased, although you have to check the equipment you are using and have to upgrade for higher percentages.

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