How the TransHyDE flagship project aims to develop a hydrogen transport infrastructure

Without a suitable transport infrastructure, the hydrogen economy cannot function. Solutions other than gas pipelines are needed, especially for imports. There are many ideas for this - but it is unclear which solution is suitable for which application and how these are best combined. The lead project TransHyDE is therefore developing, evaluating and demonstrating several technologies for hydrogen transport.

The picture shows several technologies for hydrogen transport: containers, LOHC, ammonics, pipelines.
Graphic: Project Management Jülich on behalf of the BMBF

To help Germany along the path to climate neutrality, several hundred million tonnes of hydrogen are needed annually. While Germany will be able to produce some of the hydrogen domestically, a much larger portion will have to be imported from countries with an abundance of solar and wind power. In both cases, well-functioning and efficient transport infrastructures are required since hydrogen is rarely used where it is actually produced.

Therefore, transport infrastructures for short, medium, and long distances are urgently needed. In some cases, it would be possible to use existing gas pipelines and storage infrastructures. In other cases, however, completely new transport technologies would be required. Both options still need to be extensively explored. For example, there is still a lack of suitable standards as well as safety and international regulations. In addition, many transport technologies have only been tested on a small scale.

Therefore, the TransHyDE flagship project will comprehensively develop transport technologies in a technology-neutral manner while considering various possible development paths. More precisely, TransHyDE will separately test and scale up four transport technologies each in four respective demonstration projects:

  • Hydrogen transport in high-pressure containers
  • Hydrogen transport in existing and new gas pipelines
  • Transport of hydrogen bound in ammonia
  • Hydrogen transport by means of LOHC

To ensure that all these technologies become part of the overall energy system as quickly as possible, the flagship project seeks to initiate its own roadmap process. In this way, the project aims to analyse where we stand, where we are aiming at, and how exactly we can achieve this objective. What we already know is that new standards, norms, and certifications are needed for hydrogen transport technologies to enter the market. The project is therefore dedicating a separate work package to this topic as well as to the topics of material testing, sensor technology, and safety. This ensures that all solutions developed will be durable, efficient, and safe.

Mukran Port, which is located on the island of Rügen, is Germany’s most north-easterly seaport. Here, the Mukran TransHyDE project is developing an innovative high-pressure spherical storage tank for hydrogen, which will be used on the high seas during the course of the project. The aim is to integrate it into the H2Mare offshore facility in order to temporarily store the green hydrogen produced there. In addition, it will be tested whether the spherical storage tank can also be used as a transport container. For example, Mukran strives to transport hydrogen to Hamburg by ship for test purposes.

In future, a large proportion of hydrogen will be transported via gas pipelines. For example, former natural gas pipelines can be used for the purpose of transporting hydrogen – at least theoretically. In practice, their use has yet to be researched in sufficient detail. In addition, norms, safety regulations, and monitoring standards are needed. Therefore, the TransHyDE project Get-H2 is building a test and demonstration environment around an experimental pipeline.

What makes the project stand out is that a test field will investigate both the repurposing of natural gas pipelines for hydrogen transport and the construction of new hydrogen pipelines. The project partners will thus provide an answer to material-related issues and carry out safety and monitoring tests. The aim is to outline the required conditions and the effort it would take to repurpose existing pipelines for hydrogen transport. Similar issues apply to the construction of new pipelines for hydrogen transport only.

The TransHyDE project Campfire is testing the potential of ammonia as a hydrogen transport option. Further research still needs to be conducted, especially regarding the recovery of hydrogen from ammonia. In order to achieve this efficiently, Campfire wants to draw on results from the TransHyDE research networks. The TransHyDE project aims to bind hydrogen in ammonia for transport purposes. The hydrogen can subsequently be released again. Campfire is also testing demonstrators for the centralized and decentralized use of ammonia as well as logistics structures for the import and distribution of ammonia.

The TransHyDE project Helgoland is testing a hydrogen transportation logistics chain over land and sea. Green hydrogen is transported by pipeline from the H2Mare flagship project offshore facility to the island of Helgoland. For the purpose of further transportation, the hydrogen is bound to liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHCs). This allows hydrogen to be transported like oil or fuel using the existing infrastructure. To this end, the TransHyDE project Helgoland is building a dehydrogenation plant in the port of Hamburg that will recover the hydrogen from the LOHC.

A total of five research networks support the TransHyDE projects by providing scientific findings. This involves materials research, the development of new components, and the simulation of facilities in continuous operation. Furthermore, the research networks shed light on overarching issues concerning the industrial safety, lifetime, and ecological impacts of the facilities. In close cooperation with the TransHyDE projects, the research networks ensure that knowledge is aligned and secured. The current level of knowledge and recommendations for action aimed at external stakeholders will be continuously recorded in a roadmap. The research networks always consider all hydrogen transport options and work on basic principles and solutions for the regulatory framework.

These are the partners from TransHyDE (in German) 

The data shows the implementing agencies of the TransHyDE partners (as of 13.12.2021).

Flagship projects

The diagram shows elements from each hydrogen flagship project: for the series production of electrolysers, for the transport of hydrogen and for hydrogen production at sea.
Graphic: PtJ on behalf of the BMBF

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The picture shows the industrial production of electrolyzers.
Graphic: PtJ on behalf of the BMBF

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The graphic shows a wind turbine in the sea that produces hydrogen via electrolysis. A PtX container next to it also produces PtX products.
Graphic: PtJ on behalf of the BMBF

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