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Pilot project in Prenzlau as a practical test for future gas infrastructure: Separation of hydrogen from gas mixtures with membranes

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Joint Press Release of DBI Gas- und Umwelttechnik GmbH, ONTRAS Gastransport GmbH, GRTgaz S.A., Mitteldeutsche Netzgesellschaft Gas mbH, Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches e.V. (DVGW) and ENERTRAG,

Hydrogen is a crucial source of energy that in future will combine the electricity and gas infrastructures to form a hybrid energy system. It can be generated using power-to-gas technologies and renewable electricity, added to the natural gas grid on a proportionate basis, transported and made available as needed for applications in mobility, industry and the heating market. For applications that do not tolerate a gas mixture, the hydrogen must be removed again. This applies in particular to industrial customers sensitive to gas quality. By signing the cooperation agreement to this end, six partners from the gas industry and research are now starting the project "Membrane separation for natural gas and hydrogen in Prenzlau .” DBI Gas- und Umwelttechnik GmbH (DBI), ONTRAS Gastransport GmbH (ONTRAS), the French transmission system operator GRTgaz S.A. (GRTgaz), Mitteldeutsche Netzgesellschaft Gas mbH (MITNETZ GAS), and DVGW Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches e.V. (DVGW) and as an associated partner the renewable energy company ENERTRAG AG (ENERTRAG), jointly analyse how hydrogen can be separated from natural gas-hydrogen mixtures using different membranes. To this end, engineers are planning and constructing a pilot plant near Prenzlau (Mecklenburg- Western Pomerania, Germany) in the coming weeks. The local power-to-gas plant at ENERTRAG supplies green hydrogen generated from wind power. Up to 20 volume percent of this gas is added to the natural gas in the ONTRAS network via the existing feed-in facility.

In the pilot plant the partners test which membranes are best suited to recover the hydrogen, what quantities can be separated from the gas stream and the degree of purity achieved with this hydrogen. The answers to these questions are of crucial importance for the configuration of a future hydrogen economy: Can hydrogen and natural gas be transported as a mixture in future thanks to membrane technology and thus provide the quantities of gas required for pure hydrogen and methane applications? Or do only separate hydrogen and mixed gas infrastructures have to be planned? This will be the first time that the plant will be subjected to a practical suitability test, which may set the course for a gas infrastructure planned for the future.

"As a transmission system operator, we are interested in whether membranes protect conventional gas applications from hydrogen and whether we can also cover pure hydrogen requirements with natural gas-hydrogen mixtures from our network by separating them," explains Ralph Bahke, ONTRAS Managing Director. “The gas molecules do not stop at the borders, which is why cross-border cooperation is the key to success.” Thus Sandrine Meunier, RICE Director (GRTgaz Research Center) stresses: “I am very pleased that RICE will be able to develop its relationship with ONTRAS within the scope of this partnership. It is important for the operators of gas grids to join forces in order to meet the many challenges of feeding hydrogen into gas infrastructures and thus prepare their common future.”

Frank Gröschl, Head of Technology and Innovation Management at the umbrella organisation DVGW, emphasises: “The existing gas infrastructure offers ideal conditions for accomodating, storing, transporting and distributing hydrogen. To this end, the DVGW is revising the existing codes of practise. There is further need for research in particular on some applications for end customers, who often require a certain gas quality. Membranes can be the solution for this by separating the hydrogen-natural gas mixture into the two components and thus provide hydrogen for specific customers and applications.” And ENERTRAG CEO Jörg Müller describes the potential of this practical test: “Until now, the technical regulations allowed us to feed only two percent hydrogen from our hybrid power plant into the gas grid. Membrane technology allows at least ten times this amount – this is a revolution for the storage of renewable energies.

About the partners

DBI Gas- und Umwelttechnik GmbH is a DBI group company. This group is the only company in Germany to serve the entire gas supply output chain, from production, generation and storage, to network transport and use. It thus stands at the interface between research and practice in the gas industry. The extensive service portfolio from the areas of research and development, engineering and consulting, testing and education enables the DBI Group to offer its partners and customers a wide range of technical support. The DBI Group is particularly committed to the integration of renewable gaseous energy sources into the public gas supply.

With its principal place of business in Leipzip, ONTRAS Gastransport GmbH is a national gas transmission system operator in the European gas grid. We operate and market the capacities of Germany's second largest gas transmission system with more than 7,500 kilometres in length and about 450 interconnection points. As a reliable partner, ONTRAS combines the interests of traders, regional grid operators and producers of renewable gas. With 22 feed-in plants, which feed up to 180 million standard cubic metres of biomethane into the gas grid every year, and two feed-in plants for hydrogen, ONTRAS makes a significant contribution to climate-neutral energy supply in Germany.

Contact: Anja Fuchs, Corporate Communication
anja.fuchsontrascom / Tel.: +49 341 27111-2122

GRTgaz is a European market leader in gas transport and a worldwide expert in gas systems. In France the company operates over 32,500 km of buried pipelines to transport gas from suppliers to consumers connected to its network (including public distributors who serve municipalities, power plants and over 700 industrial sites). GRTgaz implements public supply measures to ensure the continuity of the pipeline system and offers its customers access to the grid and improved energy efficiency. With its subsidiaries Elengy, a leader in LNG terminal services in Europe, and GRTgaz Deutschland, an operator of the MEGAL transport network in Germany, GRTgaz plays a key role in the European gas infrastructure. The company exports its know-how at the international level, thanks in large part to the services developed by its research center, RICE (Research and Innovation Center for Energy). As a player in the change in energy policy, GRTgaz invests in innovative solutions to accommodate a maximum amount of renewable gases, including hydrogen, in its grid. This will support these new sectors and contribute to achieving carbon neutrality. Find us at grtgaz.com, energiedespossibles.fr, @GRTgaz, Instagram and Facebook.www.grtgaz.com, www.energiedespossibles.fr, @GRTgaz (Instagram and Facebook)

Contact: Chafia Baci
chafia.bacigrtgazcom / Tel.: + 33 1 55 66 44 88 / Mobile: +33 6 40 48 54 40

Mitteldeutsche Netzgesellschaft Gas mbH (MITNETZ GAS), based in Kabelsketal, Saxony-Anhalt, Gemany, is a wholly owned subsidiary of MITGAS Mitteldeutsche Gasversorgung GmbH (MITGAS). As a distribution system operator, MITNETZ GAS is responsible for planning, operating and marketing the leased grids. The gas grids have a total length of approximately 7,000 kilometres and extend over parts of the federal states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Brandenburg. www.mitnetz-gas.de

Contact: Cornelia Sommerfeld, press spokeswoman
cornelia.sommerfeldmitnetz-gasde / Tel.: +49 345 216-2075

DVGW – German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water e. V. (DVGW) promotes the gas and water sector with a focus on safety, hygiene and environmental protection. With over 13,600 members, the DVGW develops the generally recognized codes of practise for gas and water. The association initiates and promotes research projects and provides training on the entire range of topics in the gas and water industry. It also maintains a testing and certification system for products, persons and companies. The technical rules of the DVGW form the basis for the technical self-administration and self-responsibility of the gas and water industry in Germany. They are the guarantee for a safe gas and water supply at the highest international standard. The non-profit association was founded in Frankfurt/Main in 1859. The DVGW is economically independent and politically neutral. www.dvgw.de

Contact: Lars Wagner, press spokesman
lars.wagnerdvgwde / Tel.: +49 30 7847-3664

ENERTRAG provides all services related to renewable energies. We efficiently combine electricity, heat and mobility in all areas of life. As an energy producer with an annual production of 1.45 million MWh in stock, 672 plants installed and a "PowerSystem" service network with 1,120 wind turbines monitored, we know from our own experience what is important for our customers. With over two decades of experience in Europe, our 630 employees combine all the skills required for successful operation and efficient maintenance, for planning that is responsive to public concerns, reliable construction of energy systems and networks, and even complete combined cycle power plants. We are always one step ahead – be it integrated energy, participation models or adequate night-time marking.

Contact: Dr. Nadine Haase, Head of Corporate Communication / Press Officer
nadine.haaseenertragcom / Tel .: +49 39854 6459-368