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Discuss Conversion of the national gas network to hydrogen? in the Gas Safe Register Forum - Public Forum area at UKPlumbersForums.co.uk.

  1. Ric2013

    Ric2013 Plumber

    The other day, I met up with a friend who has contact with 'green' groups and who hears a lot of alternative technology ideas.

    Apparently, hydrogen may well end up being produced as a means of using excess electricity when renewables supply exceeds demand (i.e. as a battery, or a means of transferring the energy). Apparently, there is talk of converting some of our gas supplies to hydrogen, on the grounds that we could re-use the existing network. And what did I think?, he asked, knowing that, while I'm not an RGI myself, I do have more contact with gas installers than he does.

    Well, actually, "Installer" had already brought the matter to my attention when it suggested we could use the existing grid for hydrogen instead of natural gas, and it had already got me wondering too.

    For a start, since LPG gaslines require more stringent workmanship than natural gas (I'm told you can't use jointing compound), I would imagine that hydrogen molecules, which are the smallest of all, would be even more prone to leakage, seeing as they can apparently leak out through the steel walls of storage tanks. So, surely the threaded joints and thin walls of rusted pipework, and the polymer/copper/Trac pipes now in use for natural gas would allow a massive leakage if we were to try to use them for hydrogen?

    Then there are the appliances themselves. Could we feasibly convert every gas boiler, fire, and cooker to hydrogen? A simple case of replacing the jets, or not? All I can remember from school was that hydrogen tended to burn in an uncontrolled manner, with a loud pop. Bearing in mind that, if we use the existing network, then we cannot wait until new appliances are fitted to allow the changeover on a household by household basis. So this means that, if we are going to switch to hydrogen from natural gas, then every appliance has to be modified at the same time, or we need to legislate for all new appliances to be designed for use with both, so that at some point in the future, we can easily switch over.

    So, in short, am I right to assume that the idea of even the possibility of converting the exisiting gas network to H is one of those great ideas thought up by someone with no real-world or technical experience, or might it actually be possible and I'm being needlessly doubtful?

    I know we converted from town gas not that long ago, but this seems to me to be a different kettle of fish altogether.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. townfanjon

    townfanjon Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    Ric , I think its going to get trialed in Leeds , no idea how or if it will work , but something has to happen and quickly !! Oil and gas cant have long left .
     
  3. Ric2013

    Ric2013 Plumber

    Don't forget we need to make the hydrogen. For which we need lots of energy.
    Will websearch the Leeds trial, would be interesting to know how they can make existing pipelines/appliances work on hydrogen.
     
    • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
  4. townfanjon

    townfanjon Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    Yes lets hope they can make it work . I just remember watching the old black and white footage of the Hindenburg lol , erm
     
  5. snowhead

    snowhead Well-Known Member

  6. townfanjon

    townfanjon Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    • Funny Funny x 1
  7. Ric2013

    Ric2013 Plumber

    Ah, okay, looks like the owd town gas was just under 50% hydrogen anyway. In which case, the legacy pipework should be safe, perhaps less so would be the new work?
    ...and I suppose the difference between trying to store hydrogen at high pressure, and merely distributing the hydrogen at a lower pressure is quite an important one.
     
  8. townfanjon

    townfanjon Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    Town gas died years ago
     
  9. Ric2013

    Ric2013 Plumber

    In the 60s? My point was that if the old pipework from then is anywhere still in use (which I suspect it is) and it worked with a high percentage of hydrogen then, then that same pipe will probably be okay with hydrogen now.
     
  10. townfanjon

    townfanjon Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    Understand your point pal , but knowing sod all about running a gas boiler on hydrogen, I wouldnt have a clue lol
     
  11. Harvest Fields

    Harvest Fields Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    Would anybody actually miss them?:p:p:D
     
    • Funny Funny x 2
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  12. townfanjon

    townfanjon Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    Lol , northerners to us Yorkies start at Hadrian's Wall .
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
  13. Gasmk1

    Gasmk1 GSR

    we converted all th eappliances from towns to natural so it would be feasible to do the same, but at that time it was a nationalised industry and obviosly paid for by the government. how would it work with our now privatised gas industry
     
  14. Harvest Fields

    Harvest Fields Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    Customer would have to pay I presume.
     
  15. Ric2013

    Ric2013 Plumber

    Well, having read that Grauniad article (which was much more thorough than I'd had in "Installer", it looks like They're only talking a percentage of hydrogen, not the whole lot, so probably business as usual on the customer-owned side of the network and costs of grid work will be passed on to customers as is usual.

    What I don't get though, is how, if it is true (is it?) that an RGI cannot legally use jointing compound with LPG, but can with natural gas, then a pipe, jointed for natural gas so potentially using compound, can then be safely used for hydrogen.

    If I'm right, it really does seem a case of 'try it - what's the worst that can happen?' approach!
     
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