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European research project on hydrogen separation:

Pilot plant for testing membranes in the separation of natural gas and hydrogen


Hydrogen is a decisive energy source which will combine electricity and gas infrastructures to a single energy system in the future. It can be generated using power-to-gas technologies and renewable power, added proportionately to the natural gas network, transported and made available on a needs basis for applications in mobility, industry and the heat market.

The hydrogen needs to be removed again for applications which are not compatible with gaseous mixtures. This particularly concerns industrial customers who are sensitive to gas quality.

Six partner companies in the gas industry and research sector have kicked off the joint “Membrane separation of natural gas and hydrogen in Prenzlau” project. The jointly planned and built pilot plant has been installed at the Prenzlau site (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania). Various natural gas-hydrogen mixtures with different membrane types will be subjected to a practical test here over the next two years.

Project goals

In the pilot plant, tests are conducted by the partners to establish which membranes are most suitable for recovering the hydrogen, what volumes can be separated from the gas flow, and the degree of purity achieved by this hydrogen. The answers to these questions are of decisive significance for configuring a future hydrogen economy: Will membrane technology make it possible to transport hydrogen and natural gas as a mixture in the future while at the same time providing the requisite gas volumes for purely hydrogen and methane applications? Or do separate hydrogen and mixed gas infrastructures need to be planned? The plant will first be subjected to a practical fitness test which can set the course for plans concerning a gas infrastructure in the future.

Test facility

Project partners

  • DBI Gas- und Umwelttechnik GmbH
  • DVGW Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches e.V.
  • ENERTRAG AG
  • GRTgaz S.A., France
  • Mitteldeutsche Netzgesellschaft Gas mbH
  • ONTRAS Gastransport GmbH

Procedure and technical parameters

Schematic representation of the test arrangement

 

  • Container design (container 1: test room and measurement room; container 2: test burner)
  • Testing various module geometries and membrane materials with various mixtures of natural gas and hydrogen
  • Performance of long-term tests
  • Remote monitoring possible
  • Use of green hydrogen generated from wind power (hybrid power plant)
  • Pressure range: max. 25 bar
  • Gas flow rate of one to two cubic metres gas mixture per hour
  • Hydrogen concentration varies between 0 to approx. 20% by volume as an admixture to natural gas, constant admixture ratio per test series