National Physical Laboratory

Addressing challenges facing the UK hydrogen industry

A report on the priority measurement needs for hydrogen in the UK

The Centre for Carbon Measurement at NPL has written a report that outlines the role that hydrogen could play in the UK's decarbonisation efforts and the measurement challenges facing its growth.

Hydrogen purity analysis lab at NPL
Hydrogen purity analysis lab at NPL

Hydrogen as a decarbonisation solution has historically experienced cycles of interest within the UK and internationally, but has often been discounted due to the novelty and cost of the technologies in question, and a lack of evidence of not only their performance, but their ability to be commercialised. However, the discussions around hydrogen in the UK have now begun to shift from hypothetical debates to practical rollouts. There is an ever-growing evidence base within the hydrogen industry of roadmaps, reports, projects and practical infrastructure implementations, showcasing that hydrogen can play a feasible role in the efforts to decarbonise the UK's energy system.

Yet industry and academia highlight that in order to facilitate the hydrogen industry, there are a number of measurement challenges that need to be addressed. As the UK's National Measurement Institute, NPL has a responsibility to tackle priority measurement issues. Tackling these challenges will require both measurement expertise and a harmonised effort from funders, industry, research institutes, standardisation bodies, and policy makers. The UK has internationally prominent measurement capability, as well as established R&D institutions, which could enable us to host a world-leading hydrogen industry.

A report written by the Centre for Carbon Measurement, outlines the challenges identified by industry and academia. The high priority issues highlighted in the document were:

  1. Material development for fuel cell and electrolysers, to not only reduce their costs, but to assess critical degradation mechanisms caused by impurities, as ensuring lifetime and durability is key to the commercialisation of these technologies.

  2. An odorant will need to be added to hydrogen to make it detectable should it leak. Measurement of its impact during pipeline transportation and on the end-use application will be important to provide assurance that it won't have a negative impact.

  3. Determination of the blend ratio in the gas grid up to 100% hydrogen concentration for accurate flow rate measurement and billing of the consumer, which will require validated metering methods for any end-use application.

  4. Measurement of the combustion properties of hydrogen, including flame visibility and propagation, temperature and NOx emissions, should it be used for heat applications.

  5. Assessment of the suitability of gas transportation infrastructure and materials if hydrogen were to be introduced in terms of air permeation, embrittlement and leakage.

  6. Validated storage techniques for hydrogen storage will require measurement of the efficiency and capacity of each medium, through robust metering, leakage detection and purity analysis.

The full report will be made available shortly. To pre-order your copy, please register your details

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Last Updated: 20 Mar 2017
Created: 16 Mar 2017

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