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TÜV SÜD Offers Hydrogen Test Facility to Help Solve Technical Challenges of Adopting Hydrogen

TÜV SÜD Offers Hydrogen Test Facility to Help Solve Technical Challenges of Adopting Hydrogen

By Carl Wordsworth, Head of Water Sector at TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory.


Using hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas in the gas grid networks is seen as a major contributor to reducing carbon emissions. Manufacturers, gas network companies and governments are working closely together to resolve a number of technical challenges before this change can become a reality. TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory, a centre for flow metrology research and development, is helping address those challenges. This article describes the existing hydrogen test facilities and those under development at TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory.

TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory is the UK’s Designated Institute for Flow Measurement, under contract from BEIS, and part of the UK’s National Measurement System. It provides the UK’s measurement traceability that underpins all flow measurements, and transactions based upon these.

TÜV SÜD is building a range of hydrogen test facilities, including the hydrogen domestic gas metering test facility, which has been developed for testing smaller scale equipment at lower pressures, as well as the development of a gas primary flow standard test facility. This provides lower measurement uncertainty and greater options for fundamental metrology research, and a higher hydrogen flow rate and pressure range facility.

The hydrogen domestic gas metering test facility provides a platform to investigate the performance of flow meters and also other equipment related to hydrogen operation, including control valves, PRVs, regulators, heat exchangers, etc. in a hydrogen service. The test facility has been developed for small scale applications and can deliver a range of gas flows including hydrogen, methane, nitrogen or mixtures of hydrogen and methane. It’s capable of delivering up to 38 Sm3/h of hydrogen to the device under test at line pressures up to 1500 mbar, with temperatures ranging from 25 to 55 ˚C. It can operate with line sizes ranging from 5 to 20mm. Construction was completed last year and industry can now use the facility for product development or flow testing of hydrogen equipment and valves.

As the switch over from natural gas to hydrogen is likely to take place in a staged approach involving hydrogen/natural gas blends or a direct switch to pure hydrogen, manufacturers can carry out a complete assessment of equipment performance across a range of hydrogen to natural gas compositions from 0 to 100% hydrogen.

High purity bottled gases are fed through a manifold to supply gas and gas mixtures to a test section at precisely controlled pressures and flow rates. The flow rates are measured using precision reference instruments calibrated to national standards. The facility operates over a range of flows, pressures and temperatures to replicate those experienced in service.

The hydrogen domestic gas metering test facility was designed for low-pressure hydrogen applications, but TÜV SÜD recognised that there was also a need for a larger flow, higher pressure test facility. The company has undertaken a project under the BEIS-funded Flow Programme to establish a Gas Primary Flow Standard Test Facility. Initially, it will operate with hydrogen, nitrogen and methane with a view to extending to carbon dioxide. The facility is currently in the detailed design stage and the plan is to have an operating envelope of up to 100 Sm3/hr of gas with the ability to operate up to 120 bar.

It’s estimated that the test facility will be ready for use by industry in 2023. TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory will continue to keep industry updated on the progress of the test facility build in the coming months.

For more information on how TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory can help with your valve flow testing needs, contact Marc MacDonald on