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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S027815/1
Title: HyStorPor - Hydrogen Storage in Porous Media
Principal Investigator: Haszeldine, Professor RS
Other Investigators:
McDermott, Dr CI Pickup, Dr G Butler, Dr I
Mabon, Dr L J Wilkinson, Dr M Krevor, Dr S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr N Heinemann
Project Partners:
Pale Blue Dot Scottish Hydrogen &Fuel Cell Assoc SHFCA SGN
Department: Sch of Geosciences
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2019 Ends: 31 August 2022 Value (£): 1,117,053
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Sustainable Energy Vectors
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Feb 2019 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 6 and 7 February 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Increasing reliance on intermittent renewable electricity sources makes balancing supply to demand difficult. This will become increasingly challenging as the proportion of renewables increases into the future. One solution is the large-scale geological storage of energy in the form of hydrogen. Electricity generation from stored hydrogen can balance summer to winter seasonal energy demands, with the added potential for hydrogen to repurpose the gas grid and replace methane for heating. This is significant as the heating of buildings is currently the largest source of carbon emissions in the UK, exceeding those for electricity generation.

However, the underground storage of hydrogen in porous rocks has not yet been demonstrated commercially. This project hence uses state-of-the-art laboratory experiments to address questions which require insight before commercial trials occur, focusing on the geological (underground) storage of hydrogen in geographically-widespread porous rocks. Storage of hydrogen underground is well established in caverns of halite (salt). However, in the UK this type of geology is restricted only to Teesside, Northern Ireland and Cheshire, with long and costly transport to consumers elsewhere. Methane gas in the UK is already stored underground onshore in porous reservoirs and offshore in re-purposed natural gas fields, and that provides insight to operational designs and challenges. The project partners have expertise in hydrocarbon reservoirs, geological assessment of CO2 storage, and compressed air energy storage using porous rocks.

WP1 Hydrogen reactivity examines whether the hydrogen could react chemically with the rocks into which it is injected or the overlying seal rock, which could prevent the gas from being recovered and used. Controlled laboratory experiments with hydrogen injection into porous rock at subsurface temperatures and pressures will identify and quantify likely chemical reactions.

WP2 Petrophysics assesses how effectively hydrogen migrates through water-filled porous media, and how much of the injected hydrogen can actually be recovered from the rock. Because the rock is made of solid grains with a network of pore spaces between, capillary forces naturally trap some of the hydrogen. How much is trapped affects the commercial viability of the whole process. Laboratory-based experimentation will inject hydrogen into rock samples to help answer this question. CT scanning provides live 3D images of the hydrogen retention in the rock pores.

WP3 Flow simulation uses digital computer models of fluid flow adapted from hydrocarbon simulation to scale up from laboratory experiments to an underground storage site. Hydrogen reactive flow properties from WP1 and WP2 will be used to calibrate numerical fluid flow software codes. These models can calculate how efficiently the hydrogen can be injected, and predict how much of the hydrogen can be recovered during operation. Volumes and types of cushion gas to be left in the reservoir as a precaution to maintain operation pressure and minimise water encroachment during withdrawal periods will also be assessed.

WP4 Public perception considers how societal familiarity with hydrogen may be much lower compared to natural gas. A key objective of the project is to ascertain at an early stage how citizens and key opinion shapers feel about hydrogen storage underground, and to engage civil society with the research and development process to ensure that hydrogen storage develops in a way that is both technically feasible and socially acceptable.

WP5 Project management, industry advisory board, communication and outreach are essential in this type of project. Digital updates will be posted on a dedicated project website and social media channels, with presentations made at academic and industry events. Public project reports and, eventually, peer reviewed publications will provide an open access record of project progress.

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