News ID: 216513
Published: 0800 GMT June 11, 2018

30 percent of the UK's natural gas could be replaced by hydrogen

30 percent of the UK's natural gas could be replaced by hydrogen
techxplore.com
H2 (hydrogen as a gas) combined with CH4 (methane) produces hydrogen-enriched natural gas (HENG). This can help lower carbon emissions (CO₂).

Almost a third of the natural gas fueling UK homes and businesses could be replaced by hydrogen, a carbon free fuel, without requiring any changes to the nation's boilers and ovens, a pioneering study by Swansea University in the UK, researchers have shown.

Over time the move could cut UK carbon dioxide emissions by up to 18 percent, techxplore.com reported.

Natural gas is used for cooking, heating and generating electricity. Domestic gas usage accounts for nine percent of UK emissions.

In an effort to reduce annual carbon emissions, there is presently a concerted effort from researchers worldwide to offset our usage of natural gas.

Enriching natural gas with hydrogen is one way forward. Experiments have shown that modern-day gas appliances work safely and reliably with hydrogen-enriched natural gas as the fuel.

It is already used in parts of Germany and the Netherlands, with a £600 million government-backed trial in the UK taking place this year.

Natural gas naturally contains a small quantity of hydrogen, although current UK legislation restricts the allowed proportion to 0.1 percent.

The question the Swansea team investigated was how far they could increase the percentage of hydrogen in natural gas, before it became unsuitable as a fuel, for example because the flames became unstable.

The team, Dr. Charles Dunnill and Dr. Daniel Jones at the University's Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI), found that an enrichment of around 30 percent is possible, when various instability phenomena are taken into account.

They also found that higher percentages make the fuel incompatible with domestic appliances, due to hydrogen's relatively low energy content, its low density, and a high burning velocity.

The team announced that 30 percent enrichment by hydrogen nevertheless equates to a potential reduction of up to 18 percent in domestic carbon dioxide emissions.

The research was published by the Royal Society of Chemistry in the Sustainable Energy and Fuels.

Dr. Charles Dunnill of the Energy Safety Research Institute at Swansea University said, "Up to 30 percent of the UK's gas supply can be replaced with hydrogen, without needing to modify people's appliances.

“As a low carbon domestic fuel, hydrogen-enriched natural gas can cut our greenhouse gas emissions, helping the UK meet its obligations under the 2016 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

“Hydrogen-enrichment can make a difference now. But it could also prove a valuable stepping-stone towards a future, pure hydrogen, zero carbon gas network."

 

 

   
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