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Introduction To Hydrogen Transport Techniques

In the future, when Hydrogen has grown to be an integrated part of the energy distribution, it will (may?) be necessary to transport and distribute Hydrogen in large scale from a centralized production site to the consumer. In the long run, the best and safest way may be by Hydrogen pipelines, which have been operated for many years in e.g. Germany, France, Benelux and the US. This would need the establishment of a European wide grid, which is very costly and not a real option in the short term perspective.

Besides by pipelines, Hydrogen can be transported in pressurized and/or liquid form using ships, railways or road tankers. This is most likely the short term solution. Here the low energy density per volume of Hydrogen is a problem making the transport and distribution ineffectively and costly. Therefore, it is likely that Hydrogen is transported under cryogenic conditions or at very high pressures (current pressure of 200 bar could be increased). Finally, hydrogen may be transported by using the technique of bonded hydrogen. Bridging compounds like ammonia or methanol are one mean. Other means are metal and liquid (complex) hydrides and adsorbed on carbon compounds. They might be safer methods to applicate, presently. However, storage pressure is not the only safety risk factor. For instance metal hydrides are more sensitive to heat or impact than Hydrogen gas.

As with the natural gas distribution, in the case of centralized production and distribution, it will also be necessary for the Hydrogen system to establish central storage systems for different reasons. This could be in certain geological underground formations or in man made storages using different means (pressure, cryogenic and others). By that except for the pipeline system a number of loading and unloading from e.g. the ship to a storage, the storage to a road tanker etc. are needed that are generally regarded critical from the safety point of view. Another future option is the decentralized production of hydrogen either by water electrolysis from renewable energy sources or by local conversion of natural gas. Local or remote sources of electricity or natural gas could be used. In both scenarios no physical transport of Hydrogen over longer distances would be needed.

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Page last modified on December 19, 2008, at 10:40 AM