Underground Hydrogen Storage 

Research Themes: Energy, Software technology & Intelligent Systems 

A TRL is a measure to indicate the matureness of a developing technology. When an innovative idea is discovered it is often not directly suitable for application. Usually such novel idea is subjected to further experimentation, testing and prototyping before it can be implemented. The image below shows how to read TRL’s to categorise the innovative ideas.

Click to enlarge

Summary of the project

Renewable energy can be converted, converted and stored in the form of green hydrogen. This offers a lot of benefits compared to classic conversions, transportation and storage in the form of electricity. One of its biggest benefits is that hydrogen can be stored in large scales (TWh), much beyond the scope of electricity-based batteries. Storing hydrogen in several TWh scales requires huge space, several billion cubic meters, as for its low volumetric energy content. This space cannot be utilized in the surface, as for huge costs, security and land usage. The solution to this challenge is to utilize earth underground reservoirs. Underground reservoirs, such as salt caverns or porous rocks, offer giant capacities to store billions of cubic meters of hydrogen at high-pressures. However, up till now little is known about how hydrogen behaves in the subsurface – the science is missing. In the newly established hydrogen research lab, the researcher is investigating not only how it behaves in the subsurface but also what kind of environment – type of subsurface – would be the right reservoir to store it at a given quantity and scale. And connected to this is the challenges of containing hydrogen tiny molecules inside the reservoirs, maintaining its purity, and operating the system within safe mechanical cyclic loading. Therefore, with a uniquely integrated multidisciplinary approach, combining fluid mechanics and rock mechanics across scales, with integrating laboratory discoveries with numerical modelling, the researcher and his team and collaborators are finding solutions to make this technology ready for field deployment within a few years. 

What's next?

The next step for the underground hydrogen storage research is to investigate, at real-field conditions, how hydrogen will interact with the reservoir and cushion gas fluids. Specially mixing and reactivite physics under cyclic transport of hydrogen is to be investigated. 

Contribution to the Energy transition?

Hydrogen is a very attractive renewable energy carrier. While we aim to scaleup renewable energy production, if we establish ways to store green hydrogen at large-scale (TWh) safe and pure in the giant underground reservoirs, we will certainly accelerate energy transition by several folds. 

/* */