HydroPel for Hydrogen-Methane Blending

HydroPel is an in-situ-applied nanocomposite that prevents hydrogen embrittlement in pipes, speeding the global energy transformation

Hydrogen (H2) is one of the simplest and most abundant elements on earth and is widely considered a potential solution to the world’s energy appetite and decarbonization needs. H2 can be produced from a large array of processes, from grey to green, and is considered a clean fuel when consumed, because its only outputs are water, energy, and heat. However, in addition to improvements in production, new methods and materials must be developed to make Hydrogen transport, storage, and distribution safer.

A critical issue in H2 storage and transport is hydrogen embrittlement, a process in which hydrogen’s relatively small molecules diffuse into the metal of the pipe or container they are in, making the metal brittle, which could lead to fracturing and failure.  H2 is easily ignitable when in the presence of an oxidizer, thus preventing hydrogen embrittlement in storage and transport methods is paramount.

Moving large quantities of H2 has mostly been explored with hydrogen-specific steel pipelines that are extremely costly: as much as 68% more than traditional natural gas pipeline materials. However, the U.S. already has ~3 million miles of natural gas pipelines that span the entire country, which could potentially be used in the hydrogen transformation.

HydroPel is a nanocomposite treatment that can be applied to the interior walls of existing natural gas pipelines to make them safe for hydrogen transportation. The surface treatment works by creating a passivating barrier through which H2 molecules are unable to penetrate. HydroPel can be applied in-situ to the walls of existing pipelines, forming this protective barrier between the gas and the metal that is at risk of embrittlement and fracturing.

The advanced nanocomposite eliminates the costs associated with manufacturing and installation of new, hydrogen-specific pipelines by enabling the use of already-existing pipeline networks. Additionally, HydroPel creates an “ultra-slick”, omniphobic surface that provides drag reduction to further decrease expenses by effectively lowering the energy needed to compress and move gas.

HydroPel offers a solution for blending H2 with natural gas by unlocking the potential of existing pipelines; reducing costs, rehabilitating aging pipe infrastructure in-situ, and increasing throughput.

HyroPel is one of several technologies that Oceanit is developing under EDGE (Energy Decarbonization for the Global Environment) to support the global energy transformation and make hydrogen into a viable clean-burning fuel source for a greener future. HydroPel is currently deployed with our partners, Hawaii Gas, as we work to address the technical barriers in blending higher percentages of hydrogen into natural gas pipelines.

Key Features

  • Avoids the 68% increase in costs of manufacturing hydrogen-specific pipelines verse natural gas pipelines
  • “Ultra-slick” surface reduces drag and subsequent costs of compressing and transporting hydrogen gas
  • Lowers risk of embrittlement, fracture, and explosions associated with transporting hydrogen
  • Enables cleaner energy processes that reduce carbon footprints
  • Allows for current ~3 million miles of natural gas pipelines to be used for hydrogen