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    German gas network suitable for hydrogen

    March 20, 2023 - Daniel Wetzel


      Transport problem solved. Chancellor's office informed

      The gas industry has informed the German government about a technical breakthrough in the introduction of hydrogen, the energy of the future. According to the report, the problem of transporting it over long distances and in large quantities has finally been solved.

      The fuel, obtained by splitting water in electrolysis plants, is considered climate-friendly and is expected to replace fossil natural gas in many industrial applications in the near future. However, transporting hydrogen in existing gas networks has been considered problematic. Molecular hydrogen with the chemical formula H2 is the smallest and thus most volatile chemical element with a density 14 times lower than air. It sometimes escapes through pipes suitable for other gas. This makes it difficult to handle.

      Uncertainties about whether the pipelines already laid are also suitable for transporting the new fuel can now be put to rest. The president of the German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water (DVGW), Jörg Höhler, wrote to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) on Thursday to inform them of the results of "several years of technical and scientific studies of the steels installed in Germany's gas networks." The letter is available to WELT AM SONNTAG.

      "All pipeline steels are basically suitable for the transport of hydrogen," it says. "The issue of efficient and large-scale transport of hydrogen has basically been solved!" The technically oriented gas association DVGW "considers the results a major breakthrough for the immediate hydrogen ramp-up. "

      The resistance, wear behavior and crack propagation of more than 30 of the steels most commonly used in Germany's gas network were investigated. The German transmission network has a length of around 40,000 kilometers and feeds on-site distribution networks with a pipe length of 470,000 kilometers. The DVGW study proves "that the operating behavior during the transport of hydrogen does not differ from that of natural gas under the usual operating conditions in gas supply networks," the study says. "The remaining service life of the pipelines installed is approximately 100 years for operation with pure hydrogen," it added, noting that "the study results are transferable to the entire German gas network."

      The DVGW is mandated by law to technically inspect the gas infrastructure like a kind of TÜV. The approval of steel pipelines as a means of transport removes another obstacle to entry into the hydrogen economy. Until now, there have been three problem areas in the introduction: Procurement of hydrogen volumes, infrastructure, and upgrading of end-use equipment, i.e., primarily heating systems.

      Now that the heating industry has invested in hydrogen-capable terminal equipment and with the new steel study, solutions are available for two of the three problem areas. Discussions are already underway regarding the procurement of hydrogen abroad.


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