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NTT to study hydrogen transportation through existing pipelines

NTT Anode Energy Corporation announced a joint research and development project to study safety measures for the mass transportation of hydrogen through existing pipeline infrastructure. The study, being performed in collaboration with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and Toyota Tsusho is expected to contribute to the realization of a pipeline transportation model for hydrogen that could be implemented globally.


Although hydrogen has emerged as an important part of the clean energy mix needed to ensure a sustainable future, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the large-scale, stable transportation of hydrogen through new pipeline infrastructure faces issues including land acquisition construction costs and building time.

Utilizing existing pipeline infrastructure can solve these issues, and this new study represents the next step in this model’s proof-of-concept process.

The study will examine a double-piping system in which a hydrogen pipeline is placed in an existing pipe (the “sheath pipe”) buried underground. Factors to be measured and contributed to the formulation of technical standards include:

  1. On-site investigation of hydrogen leakage detection

  2. Verification of detection of signs of abnormality

  3. Establishment of a control sequence to ensure safety

  4. Performance evaluation of various hydrogen sensors in a real-world environment

Safety measures will be investigated under the assumption of unsteady conditions including rupture accidents and natural disasters during pipeline operation. In addition to examining the safety measures necessary for such use of existing pipelines, the study will verify the profitability of such projects, including cost analysis of transportation; energy input; and economic efficiency, as compared to other hydrogen transportation means.

Based on the knowledge and data gained through this project, NTT Anode Energy and its collaborators will promote and establish technical studies on safety measures for practical use. Ultimately, the project will also support the future supply of hydrogen to urban areas (e.g., public and commercial facilities, data centers and communications buildings; fuel cell vehicles; hydrogen stations, etc.), supply through pipelines utilizing communication pipelines (e.g., cable tunnels) and will contribute to the development of smart cities and the establishment of hydrogen supply means through pipelines in regions with a view to a society that consumes a large amount of hydrogen through the development of CO2-free hydrogen.

Primary Areas of Research by Collaborator

NTT Anode Energy

  • Hydrogen leakage detection;
  • Abnormal sign detection;
  • Hydrogen sensors investigation;
  • Investigation of residual hydrogen concentration at the time of hydrogen leakage; and
  • Investigation of explosion effect of manhole cover


  • Investigation of fire flame behavior caused by the ignition of leaked hydrogen in a simulated double piping system

Toyota Tsusho

  • Clarification of unit costs through verification of equipment, installation and safety costs; and
  • Verification of advantageous conditions and business establishment requirements of pipeline transportation.



Plans especially within Europe for utilising the NG pipeline network, initially at mixtures of up to 20% and later for conversion, are now fairly advanced and being tested.

Here is the Netherlands:

As they note: 'Approximately 85% of the hydrogen network will consist of recycled NG pipelines' and that
'They will become available because there is less and less need to transport NG in the years to come'

Which is why 'Engineering with Rosie's' interviewee was talking nonsense by seeking to rule it out on the grounds that you can only transport around 30% of the energy value of an equivalent NG pipeline - everything from the needed extra insulation of buildings to the installation of rooftop solar means that this value is actually a pretty good fit for the needed delivery quantities.

I am not clear if the Dutch system is envisaging mixing in the hydrogen as is planned in Germany and the UK, this looks like a purely dedicated network.

Here is a bit about one way of separating out the hydrogen in a mixture at point of use :

And here 'pipe within a pipe' delivery for hydrogen:

To be clear for those who imagine that I am simply a hydrogen advocate, where they are possible I prefer things like reduction in energy usage, electrification and so on.

But they aren't always possible, and it is in my view nuts to try to stretch them to all cases, when hydrogen can do the job of filling in the gaps just fine.


At ambient pressure this scheme might work. If the pipeline pressure is exceedingly higher than ambient pressure, the H2 losses will be too high to make such a venture economical.



Do try looking things up instead of making wild claims.

' Hydrogen can be transported in pipelines similar to natural gas. There are networks for hydrogen already operating today, a 1500 km network in Europe and a 720 km network in the USA. The oldest hydrogen pipe network is in the Ruhr area in Germany and has operated for more than 50 years. The tubes with a typical diameter of 25-30 cm are built using conventional pipe steel and operate at a pressure of 10 to 20 bar. The volumetric energy density of hydrogen gas is 36% of the volumetric energy density of natural gas at the same pressure. In order to transport the same amount of energy the hydrogen flux has to be 2.8 times larger than the flux of natural gas. However, the viscosity of hydrogen (8.92·10-6 Pa s) is significantly smaller than that of natural gas (11.2·10-6 Pa s). The minimum power P required to pump a gas through a pipe is given by

1372155791_image1_hs (Eq. 1)

where l is the length of the pipe, v the velocity and h the dynamic viscosity of the gas. The transmission power per energy unit is therefore 2.2 times larger for hydrogen as compared to natural gas. The total energy loss during the transportation of hydrogen is about 4% of the energy content. Because of the great length, and therefore the great volume of piping systems, a slight change in the operating pressure of a pipeline system results in a large change of the amount of hydrogen gas contained within the piping network. Therefore, the pipeline can be used to handle fluctuations in supply and demand, avoiding the cost of onsite storage.'

ie for more than 50 years hydrogen has been routinely transported by pipelines at many times atmospheric pressure.

The energy costs at 4% are significant but way less than prohibitive, and comparable to electricity transmission losses.

Albert E Short

Do hydrogen pipelines even make sense? Electrolyzer prices are falling through the floor.


@Albert E Short

I don't understand your question.

No doubt some hydrogen will be produced on site at point of distribution, as is already done in some locations.

But in many others hydrogen will be produced centrally, for instance from wind turbines in the UK North sea and still needs delivering to the point of use.

Piping hydrogen around is competitive with transmitting electricity, with the precise economics dependent on distance, amongst other things.

Albert E Short


I read the original article as describing an attempt to use the existing commercial natural gas pipelines that now service high-use centers in the post-fossil world to shuttle H2 gas. H2 gas is an abomination to nature everywhere on the planet (though fine in nebulae) so while not impossible , has a distinct cost in pressurized pipes at minimum. The costs of renewables, storage, and catalysts for hydrogen evolution are plunging conspicuously if you believe what you read on GCC. Given the trends, I'd bet on the onsite generation.

Also, the UK North Sea example, where they want to build out turbines past where electric cables are cost-effective, it's doubtful that a pipeline would be useful either.


@Albert E Short

Since you seem to have taken a dislike to some elements, in this case hydrogen, which I quite enjoy for instance in drinking water, I can find no basis for rational discussion.

I wish you luck in your hydrogen free universe! :-)

Albert E Short

H2 gas is an abomination. Under supervision of oxygen, it is fine


@ Albert E Short:
Guess who the biggest H2-troll is on the internet.



It looks like you have been beaten by sheer dumbness.

Why you insist in ludicrous false statements baffles me.

You banged on about how hydrogen can't be piped above atmospheric pressure, as though you knew something about it.

Now you are still rambling on, after it has been shown that hydrogen has been pumped through pipelines at many time atmospheric pressure for 50 years.

Anyone with any nous at all would be embarrassed.

Why do you go laying down the law about things which you are utterly ignorant of?

There are an infinity of things I am entirely uninformed on.

So I don't make wild claims about how they do or don't work.




Well, at least you are identifying a real, not imaginary, issue.
To be clear, I have absolutely no objection to legitimate argument on any side.

I do feel however that your predetermined positions make a fair and balanced assessment of the relative risk of issues impossible.

Ignorance is fine, as it can be cured by study.

Pre-determined ideological standpoints make it impossible to learn, and are far worse.

But to the issue you raise:

Embrittlement is a real issue, and has been for the last 200 years since we first started piping hydrogen around, as it was a major component of the old coal gas.

There are hundreds of miles of dedicated hydrogen pipelines transporting enormous quantities of hydrogen, and have been for decades.

So the issue is not:

'Is embrittlement a showstopper for piping hydrogen?'

'How major are the upgrades needed to existing NG pipelines to enable them to safely transport hydrogen?'

Here is just one of the possible routes to ameliorate the problem:

It is of course also possible to use other technologies such as piping ammonia or LOHC fluids and extracting hydrogen in situ.

So if you are not desperate to find some, to find any, means of ruling hydrogen out, then although this is a real issue, it looks far from insuperable, and it is one which we have dealt with for a very long time in great volume.


You said “LOHC”. Looks like that is where Japan is looking.
The first reference mentions Origin in Australia.
“ Origin is a leading integrated energy company in Australia with extensive experience ranging from natural gas exploration and production, generation and wholesale to electricity and gas retailing.”



I really don't understand the logic of trying to ship liquid hydrogen about, save perhaps at very small scale.

Here is an analysis of shipping costs for liquid hydrogen, LNG, methanol, DME and ammonia:

Ammonia is the winner, although some others, not liquid hydrogen, are not too bad.

I like LOHCs, and they are certainly easy to transport about, without some of the issues of toxicity of ammonia

However, Hydrogenious show their LOHC at 6.23% hydrogen by weight here:

That compares to 17.65% for hydrogen in ammonia by weight, which makes me suspect that it is way cheaper to ship ammonia about than LOHCs, also.

And there is considerable existing infrastructure for ammonia, with all its flaws

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