RP3.1-07: Hydrogen test bed – plastic pipe network

Executive Summary

This project establishes a long term study sandpit, which provides an environment where the suitability of current distribution network plastic pipe materials and joining practices for transporting hydrogen can be studied.The test bed includes a combination of new pipes and used pipes taken from the current natural gas infrastructure with varying service history. All pipes used within this project and junction points will be characterized prior to installation, at the mid-point and at the completion of the project. The effect on elastomers and other materials typically found within pressure regulation and metering will also be evaluated. The main outputs of this project are:

  • A long term hydrogen field test bed demonstrator containing all plastic resin types and joining methods
  • New knowledge on the impact of hydrogen on current plastic pipe materials and joints found within the distribution network. The interaction of hydrogen with commonly used regulators, meters and valves also will be studied.
  • A service-based correlation to accelerated and laboratory-based investigations on plastic and elastomeric pipeline materials leading to more certainty in regard to residual life assessment of pipes with respect to transporting hydrogen.
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Commencement / End Date March 2020 to December 2024
Outcomes / Impact

The implementation of hydrogen as a fuel source has been identified as critical to enable Australia to lower the carbon footprint. Utilisation of the current gas network for transporting hydrogen requires careful investigation of the compatibility and suitability of current pipeline materials and practices. The development of a hydrogen test bed presents industry partners with a unique opportunity to gain real world information and data. This facility will be used to highlight any practices that are not suitable for hydrogen, including weld types and regulators typically used in distribution networks. The test bed will also provide long-term information on hydrogen interactions with polymer materials commonly used in Australia, which is not currently available and will not likely be made available in any other way.

Knowledge gained from this project is available to industry and informs standards and industry practices. The project provides an important test, development and research resource for the gas distribution industry across Australia. This facility also supports an education component training next generation hydrogen ready gas engineers.

Partners Deakin University, APA Group, EvoEnergy, Jemena, AusNet Services.
Research Contact

Douglas Proud

Research & Utilisation Program Coordinator