Looking after the safety of all gas users

HyDeploy: Safety

Looking after the safety of homeowners, tenants and building users at Keele is the most important aspect of HyDeploy. The Health & Safety Laboratory are overseeing all safety aspects of HyDeploy, providing expert, impartial advice to the project team.

About hydrogen

Hydrogen is an abundant element, but it does not occur naturally as a gas; it is always combined with other elements. Water, for example, is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O). Hydrogen must be separated to make it into an energy carrier.

Hydrogen offers a way to deliver low carbon energy because when it is burned it doesn’t produce CO2, just water and heat.  This has led many experts to see hydrogen as an adaptable alternative to fossil fuels, if it can be created using carbon-free renewable energy.

Using hydrogen safely

Hydrogen is a fuel and it is combustible. However, provided the proper guidelines are followed hydrogen can be used as safely as other common fuels such as gas and petrol. Hydrogen has already been used in industrial applications for many years.

The Health & Safety Laboratory has been involved in research into hydrogen safety in the UK for over a decade; studying how  hydrogen can be used safely:-

  • as a transport fuel,
  • in small scale stationary applications,
  • in gas turbines,
  • in pipeline distribution, and
  • in the nuclear industry.

The evidence gained from HyDeploy will help us to understand more about how hydrogen can be used as a safe and low carbon option to reduce CO2 emissions from heat.

Areas of focus for HyDeploy include how hydrogen blended gas burns in modern UK gas appliances, its effects on materials on the gas network, and making sure any leaks can be managed as safely as with normal gas. A live trial for HyDeploy will only go ahead if the HSE is satisfied that all of these areas can be safely managed.

Approval for a live trial

The safety of customers and the general public is protected through the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations (GS(M)R) which regulate the delivery of gas in the UK. These regulations are managed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The GS(M)R currently restrict the hydrogen level in the UK to 0.1%. This level was set based on the supply of North Sea Gas which has naturally low hydrogen levels. However, hydrogen in the UK isn’t new. It was the main part (40-60%) of old ‘Town’ gas, which was used in the UK before North Sea Gas.

Under the regulations, there is a formal process where the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) can give permission to vary the characteristics of the gas being delivered.  HyDeploy will applying for permission to allow up to 20% volume of hydrogen to be blended with normal gas in the Keele network.

For this application, the HyDeploy project must submit a safety case to the HSE. This will include:

  1. the evidence collected from the laboratory testing;
  2. information from the safety checks in homes and buildings in the proposed trial area;
  3. a Quantified Risk Assessment that will compare the risk of hydrogen blended gas with normal gas only; and
  4. existing literature and research evidence already completed on hydrogen blending outside of HyDeploy.

Based on the evidence, the safety case will propose the percentage of hydrogen that could be delivered safely to homes (up to 20%).

The HSE will evaluate this safety case and make a decision about whether an exemption will be granted, and if so, what percentage of hydrogen (up to 20%) can be used. The HSE must be satisfied that it will be as safe to use blended gas as it is to use natural gas on the network today. If the HSE is satisfied that it poses no greater risk to safety, and grants permission, then the gas is compliant with the regulations under the terms of the permission. This means it can be supplied to customers for the 12 month trial as normal gas is today.

Safety for HyDeploy

Looking after the safety of homeowners, tenants and building users at Keele is the most important aspect of HyDeploy.

The Health & Safety Laboratory are on board to help the project team manage the safety risks.

Before hydrogen can be injected into the network at Keele University the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) needs to be satisfied that it will not present increased risks to those that may be affected by it, including members of the public and employees.

The safety of customers and the public is protected through The Gas Safety (Management) Regulations (GS(M)R) which regulate the delivery of gas in the UK. These regulations are managed by the Health & Safety Executive.

Currently GS(M)R only permit 0.1% volume of hydrogen in the gas network, despite formerly distributing town gas with 40-60% hydrogen. This limit was set after the discovery of significant quantities of North Sea gas which, at the time, would supply the UK for the foreseeable future.

Under these regulations, there is a formal process allowing permission to be sought from the HSE to vary particular attributes of the gas being delivered.

HyDeploy will be seeking an exemption to GSMR to allow up to 20% volume of hydrogen to be injected into the Keele network.

A comprehensive report will be presented to the HSE including:-

  • Evidence from previous research and studies on hydrogen in the gas network.
  • Laboratory research carried out for HyDeploy by the Health & Safety Laboratory, Kiwa GasTec and Keele University. This includes testing of domestic gas appliances, pipe materials and flame behaviour.
  • Data gathered from the safety checks on gas appliances on the Keele University network.
  • A recommendation of the a safe hydrogen blend for use in the live trial.

The HSE will evaluate the exemption application and make a decision about whether an exemption will be granted. If so, the volume of hydrogen that can be distributed.

The HSE must be satisfied that the hydrogen blended gas is ‘as safe as natural gas’ to give permission for it to be distributed through the Keele network. If the HSE is satisfied that it poses no greater risk to safety, and grants permission, then the gas is compliant with the regulations under the terms of the permission, and can be supplied to customers as normal.

Hydrogen on the gas network in Europe

Across Europe permitted hydrogen levels in the gas supply vary, to a maximum of 12%.

Hydrogen and natural gas blends have also previously been used safely in Europe.

Netherlands

A project in Amerland in the Netherlands was safely undertaken to inject hydrogen at up to 20% volume into their natural gas grid for use by domestic consumers.

Germany

A trial was successfully carried out by E.ON Technologies in the Klanxbüll/Neukirchen region of Germany where around 170 gas customers were supplied with a natural gas blend containing up to 10% volume hydrogen.

France

The GRHYD project is currently underway in France. It will be injecting up to 20% vol. hydrogen into natural gas to deliver to around 100 domestic customers and a hospital.

These trials are all different in a number of respects from each other and from HyDeploy.  HyDeploy is focused on using an existing gas network and one designed to UK specifications.

Permitted hydrogen blend % volume in Europe

If you would like further details of these trials please contact the project team at info@hydeploy.co.uk.