The transition period towards the situation in which hydrogen will become an important energy carrier will be lengthy (decades), costly and needs a significant R&D effort. It?s clear, therefore, that the development of a hydrogen system requires a practical strategy within the context of the existing assets. Examining the potential of the existing, extensive natural gas chain (transmission - distribution - end user infrastructures and appliances) is a logical first step towards the widespread delivery of hydrogen.
The project will define the conditions under which hydrogen can be mixed with natural gas for delivery by the existing natural gas system and later withdrawn selectively from the pipeline system by advanced separation technologies. Membranes will be developed to enable this separation. The socio-economic and life cycle consequences of this hydrogen delivery approach will be mapped out.
By adding hydrogen to natural gas, the physical and chemical properties of the mixture will differ from 'pure' natural gas. As this may have a major effect on safety issues and durability issues (which also have a safety component) related to the gas delivery and the performance of end use appliances, these issues are particularly addressed in the project.
The project is executed by a European consortium of 39 partners (including 15 from the gas industry). In this project, set up under the auspices of GERG, The European Gas Research Group, there are leading roles for N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie (NL), Gaz de France (F), TNO (NL), ISQ (P), the Universities of Loughborough and Warwick (UK) and Exergia (GR). Guidance will be provided by a Strategic Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from relevant (inter)national organizations.
The project started on 1st May 2004 and will run for 5 years. The European Commission has selected the Integrated Project NATURALHY for financial support within the Sixth Framework Programme.