HyBlend project to assess hydrogen compatibility with pipeline materials and operations
07 January 2022
Led by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)—with participation from Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)—the two-year HyBlend project will assess hydrogen compatibility with pipeline materials and operations and deliver important information regarding long-term impacts.
The United States has an extensive network of approximately 3,000,000 miles of natural gas pipelines and more than 1,600 miles of dedicated hydrogen pipeline. Hydrogen produced through clean pathways can be injected into natural gas pipelines, and the resulting blends can be used to generate heat and power with lower emissions than using natural gas alone.
However, blend limits depend on the design and condition of current pipeline materials, of pipeline infrastructure equipment, and of applications that utilize natural gas. The HyBlend team will test pipeline materials in varying concentrations of hydrogen at pressures up to 100 bar to assess their susceptibility to hydrogen effects.
R&D will assess the impact of hydrogen on durability of pipeline materials, using unique high-pressure test facilities at the H-Mat labs. H-Mat is a national laboratory consortium co-led by SNL and PNNL, conducting cross-cutting R&D on the compatibility of metallic and polymer materials for hydrogen service.
Key deliverables will include:
A publicly accessible tool that characterizes the costs of blending and its potential to reduce emissions relative to alternative pathways (e.g., renewable natural gas).
A publicly accessible tool that assesses the risks of blending to a pipeline system given the materials in use, age of the system, and blend concentration.
DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) launched the HyBlend collaboration in 2021 and will coordinate related work through the DOE Hydrogen Program. R&D projects within the collaboration are primarily being conducted by the National Laboratory team led by NREL.
More than 30 stakeholders from industry, nonprofits, and academia are supporting this government-private industry effort sponsored by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. GTI is leading energy industry participation and bringing direct funding and in-kind cost share to add to $10 million in funding provided by the government.
Operations Technology Development (OTD) and Utilization Technology Development (UTD)—two global collaborations of leading natural gas utilities supporting research solutions for a wide range of challenges and changes for gas systems—are providing financial support.
Additional companies that have joined GTI to support the HyBlend project include Boardwalk Pipelines; ConocoPhillips Company; Equitrans Midstream; Mears Group, Inc., a Quanta Services company; PSE&G; Xcel Energy; ONEOK Inc.; Exelon Corp.; and GRT Gaz Research and Innovation Center for Energy (RICE), a European-based organization.
GTI is serving as an industry liaison and will play a key role in technical reviews as life-cycle analysis for carbon emissions reductions and a techno-economic analysis are performed to assess solutions for grid-scale hydrogen energy storage and transport.