Scottish geoscientists receive funding to investigate underground hydrogen storageOctober 4, 2019
Geoscientists from the University of Edinburgh are moving forward with the HyStorPor project.
In their quest to better understand underground hydrogen storage, geoscientists from the University of Edinburgh are pursuing their unique HyStorPor (Hydrogen Storage in Porous Media) project. The team of scientists have received £1.4 million ($1.5 million) in funding from the Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC) to explore the underground storage of hydrogen (H2) in porous rocks.
Commercial scale hydrogen storage underground could one day be important to the UK’s renewable energy mix.
To date, underground hydrogen storage has never been tried at a commercial scale. However, it is the belief of many researchers that this form of renewable power could be one of the keys to overcoming current wind and solar power intermittency issues.
Additionally, it is thought that the mass-scale generation and storage of H2 – which is produced from excess renewable energy or steam reformation of methane with carbon capture and storage (CCS) – could also replace methane for domestic heating. This would help to further decrease carbon emissions form of the largest sources in the UK.
The HyStorPor project is designed to increase understanding of the hydrogen storage system as a whole, from fundamental chemical and physical processes to social acceptability. The team behind the project plan to utilize advanced experimental facilities in Edinburgh for the purpose of exploring a number of questions that affect the commercial development of hydrogen storage, reports The Engineer.
The team is being led by Stuart Haszeldine, Professor of Carbon Capture and Storage at the University of Edinburgh, and also includes scientist from Herio-Watt University in Edinburgh, Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University, and Imperial College London.
Several areas of underground hydrogen storage will be explored.
According to The Engineer, there will be several areas investigated throughout the project. Some of these include:
• Whether hydrogen could react with the rocks into which it is injected
• How much of the injected hydrogen can actually be recovered from the rock
• How effectively the gas migrates through water-filled porous media
Additionally, the team will use digital computer models that can calculate how efficiently the H2 can be injected, and predict how much of it can be recovered throughout operation.
“On the pathway to cleaner air and in the fight against climate change, it is very likely that the UK will change heating in homes and industry from high-carbon methane gas to zero-carbon hydrogen and ammonia. Storing hydrogen made in the summer for use in the winter is a very important part of that change,” said Haszeldine, commenting on the project.
Haszeldine added that HyStorPor is the UK’s first underground hydrogen storage exploration project to investigate the basic science required to make this particular type of storage work effectively.
Umm….there is already 100+ years of proven commercial H2 storage in oil wells and salt domes. If this “new” study is to be done in Tahiti, count me in!! Seriously, P2G research has covered all of this. What we need is to open up the existing Natural Gas system to H2 blends ( “wheeling” is the electrical grid parallel term) of 5% to 15%. The USA’s NREL studies show a 15% mix does not require any end user equipment modification and standard steel gas transport lines have minimal H2 losses. There is no voodoo here, we just use off the shelf existing tech to bootstrap us into the “Star Trek” future. Access to transport lines and oil well/salt dome storage is the pacing item. These are controlled by powerful companies diametrically opposed to widespread hydrogen use – it blocks sales of their own product. There are no technical hurdles to immediate implementation – only “political” ones. The Golden Rule abides – “Them what have the gold makes the rules…”
Here in Victoria Australia in the 1950s and 1960s we had coal town gas that was 50% hydrogen. So 10 to 15% is pretty tame target for all the new hydrogen into natural gas trial projects…
Hi Glenn – The only voodoo about high H2 concentrations is the pipeline transport leakage numbers go up if it’s just plain steel pipe. The small H2 molecules find unlined steel pipe pretty permeable. NREL results indicate that the 15% number is pretty stable leakage-wise for transport, I suppose because the actual concentration of H2 at the gas/pipe boundary layer is relatively low…? Higher numbers would require actual effort and money, for lined pipe and end user modifications to combustion equipment. The 15% was the “low hanging fruit” threshold for NREL. The Germans & Dutch in their P2G facilities use a 20% mix, so initial cost must have been a factor or they just used what was already there. If they used 50% H2 mixes back in the 50’s with steel pipe, either the losses were acceptable or they lined the pipe with some kind of coating. The German zeppelins used dried cattle intestines as H2 storage bladders as cow guts are apparently (relatively) impervious to H2. Maybe other common materials are too, something cheap that would slow down H2 migration – tar? As far as energy storage goes, being able to replace relatively painlessly 15% of the volume of the USA’s NatGas with H2 is one helluva boost in energy storage capacity for the Renewable Energy folks; light-years beyond what any equivalently priced amount of batteries could do. If they did replicate the 1950’s Victoria numbers it gets even better, but you can see that the current energy suppliers would lose a big market share. Can’t see those boys being willing to change without a fight. But it’s all really doable, and with readily available off-the-shelf tech to boot. The absolute stone cold silence over here when you try to initiate any official discussion on this topic has to be experienced to be believed. Money really protects itself. Even George Bush got shut down when he tried to bring this up in 2007, and he was the President and an Oilman. >>“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair, about 1930<<