Hydrogen fuel to be odorized so it will smell like natural gas

Hydrogen fuel to be odorized so it will smell like natural gas

December 15, 2021 2 By Tami Hood

For the first time, H2 will have a smell so that it will be easier for people to be able to detect leaks.

A new pioneering energy project from the United Kingdom is adding the same smell to hydrogen fuel that is already added to natural gas, to make it as easy for people to be able to detect leaks.

The reason is that the project intends to add the H2 to the gas network and is ensuring safe transportation.

The UK project intends to use the existing gas pipeline network for hydrogen fuel transportation. Therefore, it will be odorized for the exact same reason that natural gas has its distinct smell.

The project is located on an unused gas main network in the South Bank area of Middlesbrough. It will be testing operational procedures using 100 percent H2 conditions using the existing natural gas network for the first time.

H2, like natural gas, doesn’t have a smell. Both gases are naturally odorless. The odor of rotten eggs that everyone associates with natural gas is added so that it can be easily detected if there is a leak. As this is an exceptionally familiar smell among the public, the intention is to use the same odor for H2 so the public will be able to detect that as well.

Hydrogen fuel - gas pipes - lines

A custom-built unit for odorizing the hydrogen fuel has already been built at the South Bank site.

The unit will add odorant to the H2 as it is distributed into the gas lines in the same way that natural gas has the odor added in conventional gas distribution.

This effort aligns with the United Kingdom’s net zero carbon emissions target of 2050. About 85 percent of homes in the country are already hooked up to the natural gas pipeline grid. That said, as a fossil fuel, its use still produces greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated to represent about 30 percent of the carbon emissions produced in the United Kingdom. However, H2 doesn’t produce any carbon emissions when it is used, providing the opportunity for a cleaner home cooking and heating solution.

The South Bank project will help to confirm that the hydrogen fuel can be transported in the existing gas pipelines in the country, so that H2 or a combination of H2 and natural gas can be used to reduce carbon emissions in the country without having to install a new distribution infrastructure.