The shift from fossil fuels to hydrogen as the driving force behind our energy ecosystem necessitates innovative solutions that can surmount both economic and technical challenges. In this pursuit, the National Composites Centre (NCC) has emerged as a beacon of progress, harnessing the power of composite pipes to revolutionize the transportation of hydrogen, igniting a new era in energy distribution.
Under the banner of the Hydrogen Innovation Initiative (HII), the NCC joins forces with the collective prowess of the Catapult Network and partner innovation centers. Aiming to dismantle the barriers stifling innovation, this collaborative effort targets various fronts, including hydrogen pressure vessels, cryogenic storage tanks, and the game-changing composite pipes.
The significance of composite pipes lies in their lightweight nature and mass efficiency. Given hydrogen’s low density, it requires either liquification or compression to high pressures for storage. This inherently demands a sophisticated distribution network, a challenge that composite pipes are poised to tackle head-on.
Within the halls of the NCC, a dedicated hydrogen team is tirelessly advancing composite pipe solutions. With an eye on establishing a robust UK supply chain, their journey encompasses both manufacturing capability and strategic foresight. After two years of relentless dedication, they’ve unveiled their own manufacturing prowess, strategically aligned with a roadmap that extends beyond 2025.
Their on-site facility is now a wellspring of expertise, offering consultancy and operational and structural design capabilities. This enviable position places them in the vanguard of assisting customers and industries in maximizing the myriad opportunities presented by the impending hydrogen economy.
In the current year of 2023, the NCC is diligently crafting and prototyping pipe concepts that adhere to the DNV-ST-F119 industry standard for thermoplastic composite pipes in critical offshore applications. Steadily marching toward 2025, their sights are set on achieving a comprehensive prototyping and fully qualifiable product design capability, perfectly aligned with a regulatory framework under development.
Yet the journey doesn’t stop there. Aiming to minimize infrastructure’s through-life burden, the NCC envisions the creation of “smart pipes.” These cutting-edge conduits will incorporate integrated sensors, revolutionizing the monitoring of flow and pipe performance in real-time. With such innovation, the NCC is sowing the seeds for the hydrogen infrastructure that will power not just homes, but also industries, propelling humanity into an era of sustainable energy distribution.
In the end, the NCC’s efforts transcend pipes; they epitomize the power of innovation, the metamorphosis of challenges into opportunities, and the unwavering commitment to steer the course toward a greener, hydrogen-driven horizon.