Hydrogen gas grid for Leeds moves a step closer

Posted: April 28, 2017 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation
Tags: ,

Credit: globalccsinstitute.com

There goes another £2 billion or so. The long-term aim is ‘de-carbonising the UK gas networks through conversion to 100 per cent hydrogen’ – just as UK shale gas drilling is about to start.

Plans to convert the gas grid in Leeds to run entirely on hydrogen have moved a step closer to becoming reality says Utility Week, after Northern Gas Networks opened an office in the city dedicated to the endeavour.

The office has been tasked with delivering innovative projects which prove the case for conversion to hydrogen, not just for Leeds but for the whole of the UK.

Northern Gas Networks (NGN) opened the site with the help of Leeds City Council to further examine, and build the foundations to deliver, the conversion strategy outlined in its H21 Leeds City Gate study.  

The research project, which was funded through the Network Innovation Allowance and conducted alongside Wales and West Utilities, concluded last year that substituting natural gas with hydrogen in UK networks would be “technically possible and economically viable”.

The conversion strategy for the Leeds City area included proposals to supply the local grid with low-carbon hydrogen produced at four steam methane reformers on Teesside utilising carbon capture and storage.

NGN chief executive Mark Horsley said: “By opening our dedicated project office, we are taking a further step towards our hydrogen future and sending a signal to the government and the rest of the industry that we are ready to work with them to deliver it.” 

Full report: Utility Week – Hydrogen gas grid for Leeds moves a step closer

  1. spetzer86 says:

    Carbon capture and economic viability take another foray into imaginary reality. Wonder how many things will go “boom” in the night after this implementation?

  2. vuurklip says:

    Is this an example of a perpetual motion machine?

    Doesn’t it require more energy to produce and manage hydrogen than is gained by burning it?

  3. Halo says:

    Have they solved the hydrogen embrittlement of the pipes? Gonna have to replace alot of pipes.

  4. Joe Public says:

    Good luck to Leeds. It may need it:

    “Hydrogen: Similar but Different”

    Click to access h2_safety_fsheet.pdf

  5. Joe Public says:

    No doubt the boffins will be confident the existing gas distribution systems both upstream, and downstream in customers’ premises will cope with the 68% reduction in (heat) flow carrying capacity.

    Natural gas is ~40MJ/m^3 vs hydrogen at only 12.7 MJ/m^3

  6. oldbrew says:

    Where’s the proof of concept testing going to take place? There will be some won’t there… :/
    – – –
    vuurklip says ‘Doesn’t it require more energy to produce and manage hydrogen than is gained by burning it?’

    Spoilsport 😉

  7. Anthony Ratliffe says:

    Where’s the evidence that existing NG pipelines can economically and effectively contain and transmit hydrogen gas? I hope that the proponents know just how technically difficult this is.


  8. E.M.Smith says:

    Just think of all those premises valves that will need replacing with H2 proof ones, and all the appliances to convert as the mixing valves and orifices will be wrong, and all the joy of folks learning that a hydrogen flame is not visible sometimes and as mentioned the hydrogen embrittlement problems and the mass flow problems and…

    Were I resident in anywhere trying to use H2 in the home, I’d get a lawyer on retainer to assure I get my share of the liability awards…

    Hydrogen leaks out through all sorts of tiny holes and even through some materials. Ought to make for very interesting times in any underground vault spaces…

  9. graphicconception says:

    If you are going to start from methane and just use the hydrogen as a transmission agent, wouldn’t it be easier to convert the methane straight into electricity?

  10. BoyfromTottenham says:

    Hi from Oz. This sounds remarkably like being a re-run of the building of numerous multi-$billion desalination plants around Australia at the end of our last ‘the dams will never fill again’ drought, which ended in record floods. None of these gross government funded follies has been needed to produce any water for nearly a decade, whilst costing taxpayers across Australia hundreds of $millions each year in borrowing costs, and a similar amount in maintenance. Do pollies never learn?

  11. oldbrew says:

    The idea seems to be to get rid of the ’emissions’ (CO2) from burning natural gas (methane) in cookers, domestic fires, central heating boilers etc. A far cheaper way of doing that would seem to be a sales ban, pushing people to switch to electricity – in theory at least.

    Nationwide conversion cost to hydrogen would be massive.

  12. ivan says:

    If they do this without an, at least 5 year, engineering small scale study then it think we will most probably have several very loud bangs in the night/early morning.

    Another thing, are they going to add a smell to it to warn of leaks?

  13. steverichards1984 says:

    “technically possible and economically viable”.!!!!

    I can understand the former, at a very high cost, but economically viable??????

    If its just unlimited public money being paid to very wealthy investors then why not! Its situation normal…… /s

  14. Robert Christopher says:

    As you can see from the table below, by weight, burning Hydrogen generates more heat than burning Methane (142/55.5 = 2.55), but measured per mole, Hydrogen is much worse (286/889=0.32):
    The heat of Combustion for Hydrogen and Methane:
    Hydrogen 286 kJ/mole 142 MJ/kg (286/142=2.01 kg/mole 🙂 )
    Methane 889 kJ/mole 55.5 MJ/kg (889/55.5=16.01 kg/mole 🙂 )

    The gas is not being delivered by 5 kg canisters but by pipe. Therefore due to Avogadro’s Law, it will be the kJ/mole figures that will need to be used.

    Avogadro’s law: equal volumes of all gases, at the same temperature and pressure, have the same number of molecules.

    If the Hydrogen is to be delivered at the same temperature and pressure as the Methane, it will need to flow at three times the rate to deliver the same power.

  15. Robert Christopher says:

    Following the links above I find, with my emphasis:
    The implications of conversion for the gas grid itself are very minor according to NGN head of energy futures Dan Sadler. Some reinforcement work would be required, he told Network, but this would not exceed the usual investment made by gas distributors in reinforcement annually.

    Sadler added that “the biggest challenge is not a technical one, it is putting a UK hydrogen conversion and carbon capture policy in place to drive the market and provide the appliance manufacturing industry with confidence to produce hydrogen compatible appliances.”

    NGN’s proposal for conversion of the gas grid is based on a study conducted in partnership with Leeds City Council. It includes use of Steam Methane Reformers coupled with 90% carbon capture and storage as well as the use of local salt caverns for interday and interseasonal storage


    1. conversion of grid is minor – no mention of the problems of containing hydrogen gas
    2. biggest challenge isn’t technical – no, it’s selling the project to the ill informed public
    3. interday and interseasonal storage of CO2 – so where will it end up, eventually? Do they know? What is the cost to deliver the CO2 to a permanent, safe, long term (millions of years!) location, in GBP and MW per MW delivered to the customer?

  16. dscott says:

    Insane! Hydrogen being a smaller molecule than methane will have lots of leakage. It’s not a minor technical issue.

    The money would be better spent improving fuel cell technology to run off of methane and retrofitting the existing electrical infrastructure by distributing electrical generation with fuel cells at every existing electric substation that has transformers. You will greatly cut down on electrical losses and save energy which would translate into lower fuel consumption to produce electricity. In the US, almost 50% of electrical power produced doesn’t make it the end user.

  17. darteck says:

    Reading replies here I can understand the rational behind the resistance of/for commenters to a “Hydrogen gas grid for Leeds”. Its ‘absurd’!

    How can any ‘service provider’ guarantee the delivery of its ‘product’ when ‘the product’ escapes the existing ‘network’ of/for ‘delivery’ of the product! I’m ‘miffed’.

    ‘Hydrogen’ (H2) is a ‘tiny molecule’ that can ‘permeate’ (pass through by diffusion) through most ‘solids’ (heck, it even ‘permeates glass’ where a ‘pressure difference’ exists), but ‘heavy metals’, such as platinum, are ‘impervious’ (in/im/penetrable) to the hydrogen molecule. Thus, the ‘network needs an upgrade’ before any conception of this way forward can proceed!

    Mail me when this is ‘credible’ oldbrew.

    Best regards, Ray.

  18. darteck says:

    darteck says: May 7, 2017 at 4:03 am


    No way! This is “suricat” speaking!

    Best regards, Ray.

    [mod] URL points to ‘darteck’

  19. oldbrew says:

    Report: Hydrogen gas grid would transform CCS economics

    Fuel production would create steady demand needed to increase investment in infrastructure

    ‘the main thing left to prove is that hydrogen gas grids can also be operated safely’