A new study by Swansea University in Wales says that almost one-third of the natural gas fueling UK homes and businesses could be replaced by hydrogen, without requiring any changes to the nation’s boilers and ovens. The school says that, over time, this could cut UK carbon dioxide emissions by up to 18%.
As eurekalert.org states, natural gas contains a small quantity of hydrogen, although current UK legislation restricts the allowed proportion to 0.1%. The question the Swansea team investigated was how far they could increase the percentage of hydrogen in natural gas, before it became unsuitable as a fuel, for example because the flames became unstable.
Dr. Charles Dunnill and Dr. Daniel Jones, both members of the university’s Energy Safety Research Institute, found:
- An enrichment of around 30% is possible, when various instability phenomena are taken into account
- Higher percentages make the fuel incompatible with domestic appliances, due to hydrogen’s relatively low energy content, its low density, and a high burning velocity.
- 30% enrichment by hydrogen nevertheless equates to a potential reduction of up to 18% in domestic carbon dioxide emissions;
The website quoted Dunnill as saying, “Up to 30% of the UK’s gas supply can be replaced with hydrogen, without needing to modify people’s appliances. As a low carbon domestic fuel, hydrogen-enriched natural gas can cut our greenhouse gas emissions, helping the UK meet its obligations under the 2016 Paris Climate Change Agreement.”