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Hydrogen Deblending in the GB Network - Feasibility Study Report


The UK government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. All future energy modelling identifies a key role for hydrogen (linked to CCUS) in providing decarbonised energy for heat, transport, industry, and power generation. Blending hydrogen into the existing natural gas pipeline network has already been proposed as a means of transporting low carbon energy. However, the expectation is that a gas blend with maximum hydrogen content of 20 mol% can be used without impacting consumers’ end use applications. Therefore, a transitional solution is needed to achieve a 100% hydrogen future network.
Deblending (i.e. separation of the blended gas stream) is a potential solution to allow the existing gas transmission and distribution network infrastructure to transport energy as a blended gas stream. Deblending can provide either hydrogen, natural gas or blended gas for space heating, transport industry and power generation applications. If proven technically and economically feasible, utilising the existing gas transmission and distribution networks in this manner could avoid the need for investment in separate gas and hydrogen pipeline networks during the transition to a future fully decarbonised gas network.
The Energy Network Association (ENA) “Gas Goes Green” programme identifies deblending could play a critical role in the transition to a decarbonised gas network. Gas separation technologies are well-established and mature, and have been used and proven in natural gas processing for decades. However, these technologies have not been used for bulk gas transportation in a transmission and distribution network setting. Some emerging hydrogen separation technologies are currently under development. The main hydrogen recovery and purification technologies currently deployed globally are:

  • Cryogenic separation
  • Membrane separation
  • Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA)
The technologies noted above require an energy input to drive the separation of gas components in the form of compression to provide a pressure differential. The configuration of the GB gas transmission and distribution networks provides a possible source of available energy through the pressure let-down in the network pressure tiers, which could be used to drive the gas component separation processes. This study evaluated the gas separation technologies noted above, against a selection of case studies based on actual network operating conditions to assess the technical andeconomic feasibility of hydrogen deblending in the GB gas network context. This study constitutes the first stage (proof of concept) in a programme of works that should provide the critical evidence for hydrogen deblending as a necessary component to enable the use of GB gas networks to transport and distribute hydrogen.
This report and any attachment is freely available on the ENA Smarter Networks Portal here. IGEM Members can download the report and any attachment directly by clicking on the pdf icon above.

Funding source: Network Innovation Allowance (NIA)
Countries: United Kingdom

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