As the search for cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels continues, hydrogen is perched to play a major role in the energy transition of the 21st century. The European Commission recently announced that by 2050, hydrogen should represent 12-14% of the EU’s overall energy mix. Vallourec is at the vanguard of hydrogen research and development, working on solutions concerning storage and transport.
To address growing hydrogen storage needs and support the development of green hydrogen Vallourec has developed a unique hydrogen storage solution, called delphy. delphy makes large-scale storage of compressed gaseous hydrogen possible at an unprecedented scale, between 1 to 100 tons, with safety as the main focus. delphy stores compressed hydrogen in underground tube strings with a minimal surface footprint and a modular design adaptable to storage needs.
Already a rapidly developing sector, hydrogen transport via pipeline can benefit from Vallourec’s expertise in pipe and tube metallurgy in relation to hydrogen. We are a valued member of the European Pipeline Research Group (EPRG) and its joint industry project studying the behavior of hydrogen on metals. Our offer for hydrogen transportation includes:
- A comprehensive line pipe product and services offer adapted to hydrogen transmission including seamless line pipe for: on and offshore use with fatigue-sensitive applications; high-pressure operations; corrosive environments; ultra-deep and sour service environments with a focus on combatting hydrogen embrittlement.
- Serimax welding and field joint coating services.
- Associated services such as external anti-corrosion and thermal insulation coating, CRA lined pipe, bends, welding and multi-jointing.
- Accompanying customers in repurposing their pipes for a new fluid and assessing the best solutions to support them in this ambition.
- Expertise and availability to act as a potential supplier for newbuilds.
Underground Storage Solutions
To ensure safe and reliable Hydrogen storage, large-scale solutions must be developed. Salt caverns are one such geological formation that might provide ample storage possibilities for hydrogen. Currently used for natural gas, salt caverns offer excellent sealability of the salt structure, together with efficiency, low operating costs, and significant economies of scale. Vallourec’s hydrogen storage solutions include:
- Sour service expertise and Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) applications to help customers optimize tubing sealability to explore further salt cavern development for hydrogen. We are already supplying tubings for several pilot wells.
- A wide range of steel grades suitable for severe sour service environments, which offer good resistance to hydrogen embrittlement.
- A wide range of VAM® connections that provide tight sealability and thus safe hydrogen storage.
- Weldable grades for optimized weldability performance that are also qualified for sour service.
- Intelligent Pipe solution featuring pipe integrity management sensors that monitor pipe temperature and pressure of the entire wellbore in real time and thus ensures safety by detecting leakage. By combining Intelligent Pipe with both our internal pipe database and Smartengo Running Expert digital solution, Vallourec offers a truly complete digital pipe traceability solution that enhances operations and safety.
Powering ahead on hydrogen vehicles
Vallourec’s technology for high-pressure hydrogen forms part of the drive toward mass commercialization of hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) through the development of an increasingly robust refueling station infrastructure. Our offer includes:
- Solutions for high-pressure components in hydrogen refueling stations.
- Pipes intended for high-pressure storage in pressure vessels or piston accumulators.
- A unique manufacturing range which allows for the largest dimensions: up to 660mm outside diameters, wall thicknesses up to 65mm, and inner volumes up to 3,000 liters (fit for pressure up to 1,000 bar) are feasible.
- Customer support to optimize their designs to adjust to the needs of their projects and to innovate together for safe and efficient refueling stations.
Important physical properties of hydrogen
High energy Hydrogen offers 3x the energy of gasoline per unit of mass, making it an attractive fuel source.Low density Hydrogen is the lightest element (1/10 of natural gas), so larger volumes must be moved to meet identical energy demand. Gaseous hydrogen needs to be stored and transported at high pressures, up to 1,000 bar; Vallourec has a strong track record with such high pressures. Higher velocity for pipeline transportation Hydrogen is flowing about 3 times faster than natural gas when transported in pipelines; when combined with lower density, this means that the energy flow in a pipeline is about 80% compared to a natural gas pipeline in similar conditions. Highly flammable Hydrogen has high flame velocity (8x methane) and ignition range (6x wider than methane). Gas tightness and reliability of solutions, a key expertise and commitment of Vallourec, will be essential. All these technical challenges will certainly find appropriate responses. Vallourec will contribute to these, so that the required infrastructure can be safely developed. In this way, the full potential of hydrogen as a low-carbon technology can be unleashed.
News – Vallourec Expands its Range of Qualified Materials for Hydrogen Service
In September 2022, Vallourec announced the successful completion of tests qualifying the fracture toughness resistance of a selection of steel grades in the presence of pure H2 gas . Since then, Vallourec has expanded its range of validated materials for hydrogen service, solidifying its expertise and product portfolio to assist customers in high-pressure transport and storage of H2. Thanks to its material expertise, Vallourec succeeded in testing higher strength steels that, for certain applications, enable thinner walls, lighter solutions, and reduced resource consumption to its customers.
Webcast – Steel Material Performance for Hydrogen Transport and Storage
Nov. 2022 | Laurent Delattre and Florian Thebault
Based on Vallourec’s comprehensive expertise in developing safe and tight products for the transportation and storage of hydrogen, this webcast discusses hydrogen embrittlement and the resistance of steel materials, analyze testing methodologies and present the results of the tests performed by Vallourec on a selection of steel grades for OCTG pipes, line pipes and pressure vessels in the presence of pure H2 gas, and conclude on its qualified product offering and future developments.
News – Vallourec supplies pipes for world’s first hydrogen refueling system for passenger trains
Linde, a leading company in global industrial gases and engineering, has officially launched the world’s first hydrogen refueling system for passenger trains in Germany’s Lower Saxony state. In this context, Vallourec supplied high-pressure pipes to Van Halteren Technologies in Boxtel for the manufacturing of piston accumulators intended for the Bremerhaven refueling station of the Buxtehude-Cuxhaven train line.
News – Vallourec Qualifies Materials for a Wide Range of Hydrogen Applications
Hydrogen is set to play a key role in the energy transition acting as a low-emission energy carrier for various applications. However, hydrogen is known to affect mechanical properties of some materials, a phenomenon named hydrogen embrittlement. To ensure safe transport and storage of compressed gaseous hydrogen, steels must be proven resistant to such environments. Vallourec successfully carried out a first series of tests qualifying the fracture toughness resistance of a selection of steel grades for OCTG pipes, line pipes and pressure vessels in the presence of pure H2 gas.
News – CLEANWELL® Successfully Validated for Hydrogen Storage Use
In order to safely store hydrogen underground, it is paramount that the infrastructure is extensively tested and validated to support these conditions. Vallourec has been at the forefront of such research, having developed in 2021 a qualification protocol certifying its VAM® 21 connections’ tightness to hydrogen. Now, Vallourec has successfully tested and approved the use of its dope-free solution CLEANWELL® for hydrogen storage use, further increasing performance and reducing environmental impact.
Article – A continuum of hydrogen solutions for large-scale energy storage
With the growing electrification of our energy systems combined with an increase in intermittent – or not pilotable – power generation sources, the need for energy storage solutions for power grid balancing is expected to accelerate, along with penetration rates of renewables. Similarly, the expected growth of green hydrogen uses will call for buffer storage throughout the entire value chain to ensure supply security for end-users.
News – Vallourec to provide Storengy with a complete range of tubular solutions and services for the HyPSTER project
Vallourec has been chosen by Storengy, a subsidiary of ENGIE, one of the world leaders in underground natural gas storage and a key player in the development of renewable gases, to provide a complete range of tubular solutions and associated services for the “HyPSTER” project. HyPSTER is the first renewable hydrogen storage project supported by the European Union.
Article – Committed to Developing the Hydrogen Projects of Today and Tomorrow
Energy Tech Review magazine gave the floor to Vincent Designolle, our Hydrogen Cluster Director, to find out more about Vallourec’s offer and solutions.
“Vallourec is not only dedicated to validating its product range for hydrogen applications but is also committed to contributing to the market’s upkeep by ensuring the safety of applications”
News – Validating VAM® connections for hydrogen storage
Increasing numbers of major energy industry players are preparing to conduct hydrogen underground injection and storage projects. As this solution gains traction, vast amounts of hydrogen will be stored, acting as buffers on supply chains or reserves for future power sources. Vallourec is anticipating energy industry clients’ needs by proactively identifying and certifying tubulars to ensure they are appropriate, tested and properly validated for hydrogen applications.
Webcast – Hydrogen-tight connections for underground storage
Nov. 2021 | Vincent Designolle and Alvaro Rodriguez
To guarantee a safe and successful deployment of large-scale hydrogen underground storage, it is essential to ensure integrity and sealability of the pipes and connections forming the injection wells. To mitigate hydrogen’s high propensity for leakage, Vallourec developed a new protocol for qualification of connections aimed at hydrogen storage wells. This webcast presents Vallourec’s testing protocol and the first successful results demonstrating VAM® premium connection’s tightness to hydrogen.
News – VAM® 21’s successful qualification for hydrogen storage wells sets the path of success in growing new industry
Developing suitable qualification protocols to ensure the integrity and reliability of hydrogen infrastructures is key for the success of this new industry–and Vallourec is up to the task. The first full-scale qualification testing has been successfully performed on VAM® 21, our most advanced connection, validating its hydrogen-tightness capability and its suitability for hydrogen storage operations. This important milestone sets a reference in the industry, allowing our customers to safely deploy their hydrogen projects.
News – Large-scale hydrogen for a cleaner tomorrow
Dec. 2020 | by Vincent Designolle
From solar and wind to biomass, the number of cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels has exploded in recent years. But one clearly stands out from the pack: hydrogen. Already well established in industrial uses, hydrogen is now angling to conquer hard-to-decarbonize sectors like heavy transport and energy-intensive industries. To ensure success, infrastructure at a large scale will be needed to support hydrogen’s growth—a gargantuan undertaking that Vallourec is well placed to support.