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Transport of hydrogen with polyethylene natural gas pipes [PE]


Plastic Pipes Conference Association # 2010 Vancouver


As is the case with all fossil energies, natural gas reserves are limited, and it’s commonly admitted that the production peak before depletion is expected to be reached during the coming decades. Research concerning possible alternative sources of energy to natural gas for the future is therefore ongoing; one candidate, offering many advantages, is hydrogen gas. One question that has risen is whether or not the existing natural gas pipe network could be used also for the distribution of hydrogen gas. As PE is currently the most popular material worldwide for natural gas distribution, a study of the future possible usage of existing polyethylene PE80 and PE100 natural gas pipes in Denmark has been performed by the Danish Gas Research Centre with analytical support from Borealis AB in Stenungsund. The study has now been in progress for more than four years with pure hydrogen flow in a pilot assembly in Denmark. An extensive study regarding many mechanical and chemical properties of several different PE80 and PE100 of different production years as well as a pre-use as gas pipes for natural gas transport has been performed. No evidence has been found of any reaction or degradation of the mechanical properties of the PE pipes from coming into contact with hydrogen gas. The possibility of using PE for hydrogen transport, according to this investigation, appears viable.

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