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Utrecht to solve hydrogen storage puzzle

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Image: Norsk Hydro

Underground hydrogen storage could be the answer to the present energy transition’s constraints. This sort of hydrogen storage presents a variety of issues that have yet to be fully explored.

The answers may be found at Utrecht University. Dr. Suzanne Hangx, a geologist at the University of Utrecht, states, “To assure safe and efficient hydrogen storage, we must first understand how underground reserves respond when hydrogen fluid is continuously injected and extracted. The High Pressure and Temperature Laboratory at Utrecht University is one of the few labs in the world with a wide range of facilities for simulating subterranean conditions at depths of several kilometers. This gives our study team a unique opportunity to look at the mechanical effects of pressure fluctuations generated by temporary or seasonal hydrogen storage.”

Subsurface, porous geological formations like saline aquifers and depleted oil and gas hydrocarbon reservoirs offer significant storage capacity for enormous amounts of hydrogen. “The constant input and extraction of hydrogen fluid will mean the storage system is subjected to cyclic changes in the fluid pressure in the pores of the rock, as well as changes in the chemical environment,” adds Dr Suzanne Hangx. This will have an impact on the movement of hydrogen and other fluids in the storage reservoir, such as saline water, chemical reactions that may occur, and even microbial behavior – all of which provide unique issues. Furthermore, the subsurface reservoir will be susceptible to pressure changes, which will impact the reservoir rock as well as any faults in it. This could affect the mechanical behavior and strength of the rock and faults, resulting in surface subsidence, induced seismicity, or leaks. We can recreate these circumstances extremely accurately at the High Pressure and Temperature Laboratory (HPT-lab), which allows our researchers to dig deeper into the mechanical behavior in response to hydrogen injection-extraction. Industry has already expressed strong interest in collaborating with the HPT-lab to investigate subsurface hydrogen storage.”

A study published in Energy & Environmental Science underlined the problems and knowledge gaps in hydrogen storage in porous reservoirs. Hangx and scientists from the UK HyStorPor project external link and GEO*8 external link, the European Alliance for Earth Sciences, a consortium of prominent European earth science research organizations, including Utrecht University, collaborated on the work. They propose that multidisciplinary research is urgently needed to overcome the issues of safe and effective hydrogen storage.

Arnes Biogradlija
Creative Content Director at EnergyNews.Biz

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