Southern Company to investigate hydrogen blending into natural gas networks

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US energy provider Southern Company Gas is leading an R&D initiative to address technical challenges to blending hydrogen in natural gas infrastructure.

The HyBlend initiative is a two-year effort to address priority issues to do with the introduction and use of hydrogen blends in the natural gas networks.

Among these are the compatibility of pipelines with hydrogen, the costs and environmental impacts and the effect on appliances and other equipment in buildings.

Other areas of research include studying the life-cycle emissions of hydrogen blends and techno-economic analysis of the costs and opportunities of hydrogen production.

“We are uniquely positioned to develop the technology and infrastructure needed to produce and distribute hydrogen into our system,” said Zachary Lowe, director at Southern Company Gas.

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“Blending hydrogen into existing natural gas infrastructure enables us to further understand the infrastructure’s capabilities, which is essential for achieving carbon reduction goals.”

The project was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office and will draw on Southern Company’s R&D organisation. Partners include six of the DOE national laboratories as well as more than 20 participants from industry and academia.

The blending of hydrogen into the existing natural gas infrastructure offers the quickest route to making it available to end users as an energy resource and for applications such as energy storage and supporting emissions reductions.

Southern Company has several R&D initiatives on hydrogen underway, in addition to HyBlend. Other efforts include serving as a sponsor for the Low-Carbon Resources Initiative and investigating the compatibility of hydrogen with Southern Company Gas subsidiary Atlanta Gas Light’s existing infrastructure, in collaboration with four national laboratories.

In addition, Southern Company is assessing metering and regulating infrastructure’s hydrogen compatibility with the Electric Power Research Institute.

Southern Company Gas, a subsidiary of Southern Company, serves approximately 4.2 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 700,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas.