The companies will work together as part of the operator’s LTS Futures project, designed to verify the compatibility of Britain’s local transmission system (LTS) with low-carbon hydrogen.
Oxford Flow will provide hydrogen-ready gas pressure regulators, smaller and lighter than their natural gas equivalents. The devices will be used to test decommissioned gas pipelines with 100% pure hydrogen.
Zero-emissions hydrogen is seen as the cheapest, most direct remedy to methane-dependent ‘natural’ gas. Domestic heating alone accounts for 37% of all UK carbon emissions.
Modern gas appliances are designed to operate with blends of up to 23% hydrogen. But recent small trials such as Northern Gas Networks’ HyDeploy pilot in Gateshead have needed dispensation from Ofgem.
That’s because current rules dating from 1996 limit the gas’s concentration to a miniscule 0.1% over public grids. The guidelines are scheduled for revision this year under the government’s Hydrogen Strategy.
Oxford Flow’s regulators are designed to make the retrofitting of existing gas systems easier and to reduce future maintenance.
With other gas distribution networks, SGN has ambitions to develop the world’s first zero-carbon gas grid. It will be based on existing pipelines which the firm manages, delivering both natural and low carbon gas to six million homes and businesses across southern England and Scotland.
Gemma Simpson, SGN’s director of LTS Futures, pictured left, said: “Our project will enable wide-scale system transformation of the UK gas network to hydrogen, driving decarbonisation and supporting our Net Zero goals. We are excited to be partnering with Oxford Flow to use this latest innovation as we transition to clean energy.
“Using Oxford Flow’s valves and regulators will help establish a hydrogen-ready solution for pressure regulating equipment. They will not only future proof our systems by being hydrogen ready and tested, but also by removing leak points common in valves to reduce emissions.”
Later this year SGN’s LTS Futures team will join with Oxford Flow’s field technicians to test samples of decommissioned pipe at an industry research and testing facility in Spadeadam in Cumbria.
The test results will inform the next stage of the LTS Futures project, a live hydrogen repurposing trial and demonstration next year, using a decommissioned pipeline at Grangemouth.
For Oxford Flow, Faris Churcher, pictured centre, said: “We’re delighted to be working with SGN as part of the LTS Futures project. When conversations began, the focus was on efficacy of pipeline infrastructure and its ability to transport hydrogen. However, the pipelines themselves are not the only infrastructure – or equipment – that needs careful consideration.”