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Opportunities for tank storage in the hydrogen economy

Written by...

Picture of Cyann Fielding

Cyann Fielding

Journalist at Tank Storage Magazine.

Nick Waple, senior engineer at Wood Plc, gives Tank Storage Magazine an exclusive preview of his talk at the Hydrogen Technology Expo and how this relates to tank storage professionals

Hydrogen event with stands and people
Hydrogen Technology Expo

The offshore pipeline industry is facing some key challenges when it comes to transporting hydrogen at high pressures. This includes:

  • What a new hydrogen pipeline will look like in terms of specification and testing requirements
  • Pathways in repurposing existing pipelines for hydrogen
  • The latest hydrogen pipeline design methodologies following an Engineering Critical Assessment (ECA) approach combining material test data, defect sizing and design loads

Many aspects of the challenges foreseen for both onshore and offshore pipeline is also relevant to the tank storage industry. This includes aspects such as material compatibility, considering the embrittlement effects hydrogen has on carbon steels, which are key in ensuring safe pipeline design and may significantly impact the feasibility of repurposing existing infrastructure.

There are also thermodynamic considerations, such as the comparatively low volumetric energy density of hydrogen compared to traditional hydrocarbons, and safety aspects, such as the low ignition energy of hydrogen and potential for deflagration or explosion to occur in a gas release scenario.

What opportunities are there for the tank storage industry?

Hydrogen technologies present a tremendous opportunity for many sectors of the energy industry to utilise their existing knowledge and skillsets to support decarbonisation, including
tank storage. The low volumetric density of hydrogen in particular will require additional and new storage solutions to maintain energy security and support de-centralised hydrogen production from renewable sources.

In addition, hydrogen energy vectors such as cryogenic hydrogen and liquid ammonia present new challenges and opportunities for bulk energy storage and transportation over large distances.

In preparation for the rise of hydrogen technologies, it is important for all industries to identify and understand the key differences between hydrogen and natural gas and the impacts these will have on established material use, design methodologies and operational procedures. This opens up new opportunities for collaboration and innovation to ensure industry-wide solutions to challenges faced.

Within the pipeline industry many Joint Industry Practices (JIPs) such as the DNV-led H2PipeJIP (of which Wood is a participant) are ongoing with comprehensive experimental testing programs being carried to enhance the understanding of key hydrogen transportation challenges to support in the design and re-qualification of hydrogen pipelines.

Wood has also funded a three-year multidiscipline team tasked with understanding the challenges of hydrogen and developing design solutions to address these challenges. Many of these solutions are relevant to tank farms.


For more information:

Nick Waple will be speaking at the Hydrogen Technology Expo on 27-28 September in Bremen, Germany.

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