The Anonymous Widower

Researchers Use Sea Water To Produce Green Hydrogen At Almost 100% Efficiency

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

This paragraph gives more details.

“We have split natural seawater into oxygen and hydrogen with nearly 100 percent efficiency, to produce green hydrogen by electrolysis, using a non-precious and cheap catalyst in a commercial electrolyser,” explained Professor Shi-Zhang Qiao, project leader at the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide.

They use what is called a Lewis acid catalyst.

In the late 1960s, I worked for ICI in Runcorn.

Most of the hydrogen they needed was produced from brine by the large Castner-Kellner process, which may have been green, but was filthy, as it used a lot of mercury.

ICI also had an older and cruder process, which produced hydrogen and oxygen, by electrolysing brine, in a simple cell.

  • These cells had a metal tub, with a concrete lid.
  • Two electrodes passed through the lid.
  • The lids quickly degraded and cells were rebuild regularly.
  • But it did produce medical grade sodium hydroxide.

Legend also had it, that the salt that collected around the lid was pure enough to use in the canteen.

In Torvex Energy, I describe a company in Stockton which is also going the sea water electrolysis route.

Having seen, its Victorian ancestor in operation, I believe that sea water electrolysis has possibilities to make hydrogen efficiently.

 

February 8, 2023 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

World’s First Offshore Wind Farm Using 16 MW Turbines Enters Construction In China

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the offshoreWIND.biz.

This is the sub-heading.

China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG) has started construction of the second phase of its offshore wind farm Zhangpu Liuao. The project will be both China’s and the world’s first wind farm to comprise 16 MW wind turbines.

I hope the Chinese have done all their calculations, research and testing. The dynamics of large wings are tricky and there are a lot of square law factors involved. I’d always be worried that at a particular wind speed a dangerous vibration will be setup.

How many Chinese engineers have seen videos of Galloping Gertie?

As the video says, no one was injured or killed, when the Tacoma Narrows Bridge fell into the river, but we nearly had a very similar disaster in the UK. I used to work at ICI in Runcorn and at the time, I lived in Liverpool, so every day, I went to work I crossed the Silver Jubilee Bridge twice.

One day, after a party in Cheshire, I even got so drunk, I had to stop the car on the bridge and was sick into the Mersey. It was before C and myself were married and she always claimed she nearly called the marriage off, after the incident.

But have you ever wondered, why that bridge is a through arch bridge rather than a suspension bridge as over the Forth, Hmber and Severn, which were all built around the same time?

Wikipedia has a section, which describes the Planning of the bridge.

The new bridge had to allow the passage of shipping along the Manchester Ship Canal. Many ideas were considered, including a new transporter bridge or a swing bridge. These were considered to be impractical and it was decided that the best solution was a high-level bridge upstream from the railway bridge. This would allow the least obstruction to shipping and would also be at the narrowest crossing point. The first plan for a high-level bridge was a truss bridge with three or five spans, giving an 8 yards (7 m) dual carriageway with a cycle track and footpaths. This was abandoned because it was too expensive, and because one of the piers would be too close to the wall of the ship canal. The next idea was for a suspension bridge with a span of 343 yards (314 m) between the main towers with an 8 yards (7 m) single carriageway and a 2-yard (2 m) footpath. However aerodynamic tests on models of the bridge showed that, while the bridge itself would be stable, the presence of the adjacent railway bridge would cause severe oscillation.

The finally accepted design was for a steel through arch bridge with a 10-yard (9 m) single carriageway. The design of the bridge is similar to that of Sydney Harbour Bridge but differs from it in that the side spans are continuous with the main span rather than being separate from them. This design feature was necessary to avoid the problem of oscillation due to the railway bridge. The main span measures 361 yards (330 m) and each side span is 83 yards (76 m).

But that misses out part of the story that I learned about at ICI.

I developed a very simple piece of electronics for ICI Runcorn’s noise and vibration expert. The equipment allowed the signals from two noise meters to be subtracted. This meant that if they were pointed in different directions, the noise generated by an object or piece of equipment could be determined.

The noise and vibration expert had tremendous respect from his fellow engineers, but his involvement in the design of the Runcorn bridge had elevated him to a legend.

The designers of the suspension bridge, that is detailed in the Wikipedia extract, presented their design to the ICI (Merseyside) Scientific Society.

The noise and vibration expert was at the meeting and questioned the design and said it would collapse due to oscillations caused by the presence of the railway bridge. He advised aerodynamic tests should be done on the bridge.

His back of the fag packet calculations were shown by tests to be correct and the bridge was built as a through arch bridge.

These pictures show the bridge.

They were taken from a train on the railway bridge.

 

February 6, 2023 Posted by | Design, Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Centrica Partners With Hull-Based HiiRoc For Hydrogen Fuel Switch Trial At Humber Power Plant

The title of this post, is the same as that on this article on Business Live.

This is a paragraph.

It comes as the owner of British Gas has also increased its shareholding in the three-year-old business to five per cent. Last November it was one of several investors to pump £28 million into HiiRoc alongside Melrose Industries, HydrogenOne, Cemex, Hyundai and Kia, who joined existing strategic investors Wintershall Dea and VNG.

This could be sensational.

The reason I said that was that I used to share an office at ICI Mond Division, with Peter, who was putting instruments on a plant called the Badische. It was a new process to create acetylene. If I remember correctly, the process was as follows.

Ethylene was burned and then quenched in naptha.

The trouble was that the process produced a lot of carbon, which clogged the burners, and masses of black smoke, which upset everybody in Runcorn, especially on washing day!

Someone was worried that the plant might go into explosive limits, so Peter had devised a clever infra-red instrument to read the composition of the off-gas from the burner. It was found to be in explosive limits and ICI shut it down. BASF said ICI were wrong and there was no way to measure the composition of the off-gas anyway. A few months later BASF’s plant exploded and buried itself in a hillside in Southern Germany. Upon hearing this news, ICI shut the Badische for ever. ICI were annoyed in that they had to spend £200,000 on a flameless cutter to dismantle the plant.

I do wonder, if HiiROC have tamed BASF’s beast to do something useful, like produce hydrogen and carbon black!

November 2, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , | 1 Comment

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Could Get A Lot Cheaper With Newly Developed Iron Catalyst

The title of this post, is the same ass that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Scientists have been looking for an alternative to precious metals such as platinum for decades, in the hopes of bringing down the cost of hydrogen fuel cells.

An alternative to a platinum catalyst that costs considerably less will help to bring down the cost of hydrogen fuel cells and of using H2 as a carbon emission-free fuel. This would make it cheaper to both produce and use H2.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo, appear to be on the road to using iron as an affordable catalyst.

This paragraph describes he structure of the catalyst.

The researchers looked to iron because of its low cost and abundance. On its own, iron does not perform as well as platinum as a catalyst, particularly because it isn’t as durable in the face of highly corrosive and oxidative environments such as those within hydrogen fuel cells. The researchers bonded four nitrogen atoms to the iron in order to overcome that barrier, followed by embedding the material within a few graphene layers “with accurate atomic control of local geometric and chemical structures,” said Wu.

Gang Wu is leading the research.

In the early 1970s, I worked with one of ICI’s catalyst experts and he said, that improvements in this area will be large in the future.

Increasingly, I see his prediction being proved right, in the varied fields, where catalysts are used.

July 13, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Massive Hydrogen Project, That Appears To Be Under The Radar

This page on the SSE Thermal web site, is entitled Aldbrough Gas Storage.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Aldbrough Gas Storage facility, in East Yorkshire, officially opened in June 2011. The last of the nine caverns entered commercial operation in November 2012.

This page on Hydrocarbons Technology is entitled Aldbrough Underground Gas Storage Facility, Yorkshire.

It gives these details of how Aldbrough Gas Storage was constructed.

The facility was originally planned to be developed by British Gas and Intergen in 1997. British Gas planned to develop Aldbrough North as a gas storage facility while Intergen planned to develop Aldbrough South.

SSE and Statoil became owners of the two projects in 2002 and 2003. The two companies combined the projects in late 2003. Site work commenced in March 2004 and leaching of the first cavern started in March 2005.

The storage caverns were created by using directional drilling. From a central area of the site, boreholes were drilled down to the salt strata located 2km underground.

After completion of drilling, leaching was carried out by pumping seawater into the boreholes to dissolve salt and create a cavern. Natural gas was then pumped into the caverns and stored under high pressure.

Six of the nine caverns are already storing gas. As of February 2012, dewatering and preparation of the remaining three caverns is complete. Testing has been completed at two of these caverns.

The facility is operated remotely from SSE’s Hornsea storage facility. It includes an above ground gas processing plant equipped with three 20MW compressors. The gas caverns of the facility are connected to the UK’s gas transmission network through an 8km pipeline.

Note.

  1. The caverns are created in a bed of salt about two kilometres down.
  2. It consists of nine caverns with the capacity to store around 370 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas.
  3. Salt caverns are very strong and dry, and are ideal for storing natural gas. The technique is discussed in this section in Wikipedia.

As I worked for ICI at Runcorn in the late 1960s, I’m very familiar with the technique, as the company extracted large amounts of salt from the massive reserves below the Cheshire countryside.

This Google Map shows the location of the Aldbrough Gas Storage to the North-East of Hull.

Note.

  1. The red-arrow marks the site of the Aldbrough Gas Storage.
  2. It is marked on the map as SSE Hornsea Ltd.
  3. Hull is in the South-West corner of the map.

This Google Map shows the site in more detail.

It appears to be a compact site.

Atwick Gas Storage

This page on the SSE Thermal web site, is entitled Atwick Gas Storage.

This is said on the web site.

Our Atwick Gas Storage facility is located near Hornsea on the East Yorkshire coast.

It consists of nine caverns with the capacity to store around 325 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas.

The facility first entered commercial operation in 1979. It was purchased by SSE in September 2002.

This Google Map shows the location of the Atwick Gas Storage to the North-East of Beverley.

Note.

  1. The red-arrow marks the site of the Atwick Gas Storage.
  2. It is marked on the map as SSE Atwick.
  3. Beverley is in the South-West corner of the map.

This Google Map shows the site in more detail.

As with the slightly larger Aldbrough Gas Storage site, it appears to be compact.

Conversion To Hydrogen Storage

It appears that SSE and Equinor have big plans for the Aldbrough Gas Storage facility.

This page on the SSE Thermal web site is entitled Plans For World-Leading Hydrogen Storage Facility At Aldbrough.

These paragraphs introduce the plans.

SSE Thermal and Equinor are developing plans for one of the world’s largest hydrogen storage facilities at their existing Aldbrough site on the East Yorkshire coast. The facility could be storing low-carbon hydrogen as early as 2028.

The existing Aldbrough Gas Storage facility, which was commissioned in 2011, is co-owned by SSE Thermal and Equinor, and consists of nine underground salt caverns, each roughly the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Upgrading the site to store hydrogen would involve converting the existing caverns or creating new purpose-built caverns to store the low-carbon fuel.

With an initial expected capacity of at least 320GWh, Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage would be significantly larger than any hydrogen storage facility in operation in the world today. The Aldbrough site is ideally located to store the low-carbon hydrogen set to be produced and used in the Humber region.

Hydrogen storage will be vital in creating a large-scale hydrogen economy in the UK and balancing the overall energy system by providing back up where large proportions of energy are produced from renewable power. As increasing amounts of hydrogen are produced both from offshore wind power, known as ‘green hydrogen’, and from natural gas with carbon capture and storage, known as ‘blue hydrogen’, facilities such as Aldbrough will provide storage for low-carbon energy.

I have a few thoughts.

Will Both Aldbrough and Atwick Gas Storage Facilities Be Used?

As the page only talks of nine caverns and both Aldbrough and Atwick facilities each have nine caverns, I suspect that at least initially only Aldbrough will be used.

But in the future, demand for the facility could mean all caverns were used and new ones might even be created.

Where Will The Hydrogen Come From?

These paragraphs from the SSE Thermal web page give an outline.

Equinor has announced its intention to develop 1.8GW of ‘blue hydrogen’ production in the region starting with its 0.6GW H2H Saltend project which will supply low-carbon hydrogen to local industry and power from the mid-2020s. This will be followed by a 1.2GW production facility to supply the Keadby Hydrogen Power Station, proposed by SSE Thermal and Equinor as the world’s first 100% hydrogen-fired power station, before the end of the decade.

SSE Thermal and Equinor’s partnership in the Humber marks the UK’s first end-to-end hydrogen proposal, connecting production, storage and demand projects in the region. While the Aldbrough facility would initially store the hydrogen produced for the Keadby Hydrogen Power Station, the benefit of this large-scale hydrogen storage extends well beyond power generation. The facility would enable growing hydrogen ambitions across the region, unlocking the potential for green hydrogen, and supplying an expanding offtaker market including heat, industry and transport from the late 2020s onwards.

Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage, and the partners’ other hydrogen projects in the region, are in the development stage and final investment decisions will depend on the progress of the necessary business models and associated infrastructure.

The Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage project is the latest being developed in a long-standing partnership between SSE Thermal and Equinor in the UK, which includes the joint venture to build the Dogger Bank Offshore Wind Farm, the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

It does seem to be, a bit of an inefficient route to create blue hydrogen, which will require carbon dioxide to be captured and stored or used.

Various scenarios suggest themselves.

  • The East Riding of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are agricultural counties, so could some carbon dioxide be going to help greenhouse plants and crops, grow big and strong.
  • Carbon dioxide is used as a major ingredient of meat substitutes like Quorn.
  • Companies like Mineral Carbonation International are using carbon dioxide to make building products like blocks and plasterboard.

I do suspect that there are teams of scientists in the civilised world researching wacky ideas for the use of carbon dioxide.

Where Does The Dogger Bank Wind Farm Fit?

The Dogger Bank wind farm will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

  • It will consist of at least three phases; A, B and C, each of which will be 1.2 GW.
  • Phase A and B will have a cable to Creyke Beck substation in Yorkshire.
  • Phase C will have a cable to Teesside.

Creyke Beck is almost within walking distance of SSE Hornsea.

Could a large electrolyser be placed in the area, to store wind-power from Dogger Bank A/B as hydrogen in the Hydrogen Storage Facility At Aldbrough?

Conclusion

SSE  and Equinor may have a very cunning plan and we will know more in the next few years.

 

 

May 22, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Torvex Energy

Hydrogen And Chlorine Production At ICI Mond Division in The 1960s.

In my time in the late 1960s, when I worked For ICI Mond Division, I spent time in the Castner-Kellner works trying fairly unsuccessfully to develop an analyser to detect mercury-in-air in the Castner-Kellner process, that created chlorine and hydrogen from brine.

The process is not a nice one as it uses a mercury cathode and Wikipedia says this about safety.

The mercury cell process continues in use to this day. Current-day mercury cell plant operations are criticized for environmental release of mercury leading in some cases to severe mercury poisoning (as occurred in Japan). Due to these concerns, mercury cell plants are being phased out, and a sustained effort is being made to reduce mercury emissions from existing plants.

ICI felt that a mercury-in-air analyser would help to make the plant safer.

But ICI did have an alternative way to produce the chlorine they needed for selling as a gas or liquid or using as a base chemical for products like disinfectants, bleaches and dry cleaning fluids, without the use of mercury.

It was only a small plant and I was taken their once.

As with the Castner-Kellner process, it used a series of electrolyser cells.

  • These were smaller and had a tub, with a concrete lid.
  • The anode and cathode and the pipes collecting the hydrogen and the chlorine went through the lid.
  • They were rebuilt regularly.
  • As with the Castner-Kellner process, brine is electrolysed.
  • The process was old and probably dated from before the Castner-Kellner process.

But of course as there was no mercury, the hydrogen and chlorine were pure and could be used for certain types of manufacture like pharmaceuticals.

Torvex Energy

This article on Hydrogen Fuel News is entitled Stockton R&D Firm Unveils New Hydrogen From Seawater Production Process.

These are some points from the article.

  • Torvex Energy, a Stockton research and development company, recently unveiled a new technique for producing hydrogen from seawater.
  • This unique method of producing hydrogen from seawater does not result in oxygen gas emissions.
  • As such, it is clearly quite different from more traditional water electrolysis methods used for producing green H2.
  • The team behind the production method call it an environmentally friendly technique.
  • There is no desalination process.
  • The firm has patents pending on this unique form of electrochemical process.
  • It worked with the Material Processing Institute to establish proof of concept for this purpose.

I originally felt that Torvex Energy may have updated the ancient ICI process, that I saw over forty years ago, but when I asked the company, they said it was different.

It now appears that they haven’t, which means they must have found a totally new process.

There is certainly an ongoing patent application with a number of gb1900680.8.

How Efficient Is The Torvex Energy Process?

This will be key and there is nothing on their web site or on the Internet to indicate, if the Torvex Energy process is more or less efficient than traditional electrolysis.

Offshore Hydrogen Production

The main application for the Torvex Energy process must surely be in the production of hydrogen offshore.

  • A fleet of floating wind turbines could surround a mother platform with a Torvex Energy process.
  • The hydrogen could then be sent ashore in a pipeline.
  • If there to be a handy depleted gas field, the this could be used to store the gas.

Depending on the efficiency of the Torvex Energy process, this could be a more cost-effective way to bring energy ashore, as gas pipelines can be more affordable, than HVDC electrical links. Especially, if the pipeline already exists.

Conclusion

Torvex Energy would have appeared to have made a major breakthrough in the production of hydrogen.

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

HS2 Reveals Dramatic Carbon Saving With Ambitious Modular Design For Thame Valley Viaduct

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on High Speed Two.

This is the first paragraph.

HS2 today revealed the final designs for the Thame Valley Viaduct and the pioneering pre-fabricated construction methods that will see the 880m long structure slotted together like a giant Lego set, cutting its carbon footprint by an estimated 66%.

This is one of the pictures released in this photoset.

This second picture shows a closer view of a pillar and the catenary.

It does appear in these two views that the catenary and the gantries that support it are more elegant than those that tend to be used on most electrification schemes at the present time.

These paragraphs describe how the design saved carbon emissions.

Applying lessons from recent high speed rail projects in Spain, the design team cut the amount of embedded carbon by simplifying the structure of the viaduct so that every major element can be made off site.

In a major step forward for viaduct design in the UK, the team opted for two wide ‘box girder’ beams per span instead of eight smaller beams – to simplify and speed up assembly.

The production of steel and concrete is a major contributor to carbon emissions, with the new lighter-weight structure expected to save 19,000 tonnes of embedded carbon in comparison to the previous design. That’s the same amount of carbon emitted by one person taking a flight from London to Edinburgh and back 70,000 times.

It would appear that saving weight and using less steel and concrete can save a lot of carbon emissions.

I once got a bonus at ICI because I saved ten metres on the height of a chemical plant. My boss said, I’d saved nearly a million. by using a mathematical model on an analogue computer to show that a vessel in the plant wasn’t needed and this eliminated a complete floor of the plant.

How much concrete and steel has been saved by High Speed Two on this viaduct, by making it more basset than Afghan hound?

Ever since I watched the building of Crossrail’s Custom House station, I have been in favour of off-site construction.

I wrote about it in An Express Station and am pleased to see it being used on High Speed Two.

April 8, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is The Truth Getting Through To The Man Or Woman On The Moscow Tram?

I ask this question, as it appears that Russian TV is parroting, the Kremlin’s lies.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, I used to work for ICI.

A couple of times, I came across fellow engineers, who had worked on the Polyspinners project.

In this Wikipedia entry for September 1964, this is said about Polyspinners.

Edward du Cann of the British Board of Trade announced the signing of the largest trade deal in the history of British relations with the Soviet Union, with the Soviet purchasing agency Techmashimport and the British conglomerate Polyspinners, Ltd. agreeing for the supply of British textile machinery to a polyester fiber plant being constructed in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. In all, the United Kingdom agreed to advanced $67 million of credit over a 15-year period.

It was a large project and ICI did well out of it.

My colleagues at ICI generally spoke well of the project and friends they had made in Russia and in those pre-mobile phone and internet days, they regularly sent each other cards and letters.

That was nearly sixty years ago, but human beings generally want to be friends with each other, so how many links are there between people living in Western Europe, North America, Australia and other countries and those living in Russia, which started as family, business or historic links or even casual meetings on say a holiday in the Mediterranean?

I should say that two of my best British friends in the UK, I met on holiday in St. Kitts and Moscow.

There must be millions of these links and they will surely allow the truth to get through to the man or woman on the Moscow tram.

March 2, 2022 Posted by | News, World | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Battery Train And Fast Charger To Be Tested In London

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first paragraph.

Great Western Railway has signed an agreement to test Vivarail’s Class 230 battery multiple-unit and fast charging technology under real-world conditions on the 4 km non-electrified branch between West Ealing and Greenford in West London.

As an engineer, who started designing control systems for rolling mills in the mid-1960s and went on to get a Degree in Control and Electrical Engineering from Liverpool University, before working for ICI applying computers to a variety of problems, I can’t look at a railway line like the Greenford Branch without wanting to automate it.

I had one amateurish attempt in An Automated Shuttle Train On The Greenford Branch Line. I was trying to get four trains per hour (tph) on the branch and I don’t think that is possible, with the Class 230 trains.

Now we know the train we are dealing with, I could plan an automated system, that would drive the train.

  • Each journey on the branch takes around 11-12 minutes.
  • Two tph would take between 44 and 48 minutes shuttling between the two stations in an hour.
  • The article states that recharging takes ten minutes.
  • If the train charged the batteries once per hour, that would leave between two and six minutes for the other three stops.
  • Any freight train using the branch seems to take about six minutes, so they could sneak through, when the shuttle is having a fast charge.
  • I would also use a similar system to that originally used on the Victoria Line. After the driver has closed the doors and ascertained that there were no problems, they would press a button to move the train to the next station and then automatically open the doors.

From this rough calculation to run a two tph service, I suspect that the train needs to be able to go between West Ealing and Greenford stations in ten minutes. Assuming one ten minute Fast Charge per hour, this would give three minutes and twenty seconds to turn the train, at the three terminal station stops.

I certainly feel, that an automatic shuttle would be possible.

February 16, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Carlton Power, Stag Pool Knowledge For UK Energy Storage, Green H2

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Renewables Now.

This is the introductory paragraph.

British energy infrastructure developers Carlton Power and Stag Energy are merging their operations with plans to develop projects that will help improve energy storage, grid stability and green hydrogen production in the UK.

The article says this about Carlton Power.

Yorkshire-based Carlton has delivered more than 6 GW of thermal and renewables generation in the past 30 years. It is the lead developer of the Trafford Energy Park in Manchester, which foresees a 50-MW/250 -MWh liquid air energy storage plant to be built in partnership with Highview Power, a 200-MW hydrogen electrolyser and commercial hydrogen hub for use in transport and heating as well as a 250-MWe battery energy storage facility. Carlton also plans to expand its Langage Energy Park near Plymouth with the addition of energy storage and electrolyser facilities.

They certainly seem to have a history, that will be worth extending into the future, with energy storage and hydrogen production.

The article says this about Stag Energy.

Edinburgh-headquartered Stag Energy, for its part, has previously developed open-cycle gas-turbine (OCGT) plants in England and Wales and has a joint venture with Lundin to build the Gateway offshore underground gas storage facility in the Irish Sea using salt caverns. Stag Energy is also part of the National Grid’s Pathfinder process to uncover ways to improve electricity system stability.

This article on Hydrocarbons Technology is entitled Gateway Gas Storage Facility and starts with these two paragraphs.

The Gateway Gas Storage Company (Gateway) is developing an underground natural gas storage facility, Gateway Gas Storage Facility (GGSF), 25km offshore south-west Barrow-in-Furness, UK, in the East Irish Sea.

The GGSF plant has a strong locational advantage for developing offshore salt cavern gas storage facilities, according to the British Geological Survey.

In my time at ICI in Runcorn, I learned a lot about salt caverns and once had a memorable trip into their salt mine under Winsford, which was large enough to accommodate Salisbury cathedral. A couple of years later, I worked with a lady, who arranged for ICI’s historic documents to be stored in the dry air of the mine.

Natural Gas Storage In Salt Caverns

This section in Wikipedia describes how caverns in salt formations are used to store natural gas.

In the 1960s, ICI used to create boreholes into the vast amount of salt, that lay below the surface and then by pumping in hot water, they were able to bring up a brine, which they then electrolysed to obtain chlorine, hydrogen, sodium hydroxide and sodium metal.

When they had taken as much salt out of a borehole, as they dared, they would move on.

Provided the salt stayed dry, it didn’t cause any problems.

It sounds like the Gateway Gas Storage Facility will use new caverns carefully created under the Irish Sea.

This document from the Department of Energy and Climate Change is an environmental impact assessment of the project.

It has a full description of the project.

The proposed gas storage facility will be located southwest of Barrow-in-Furness, approximately 24 km. offshore from Fylde, North West England. It will comprise 20 gas storage caverns created in the sub-seabed salt strata. A single well will be drilled at each cavern location, and the salt will be removed using seawater pumped down the well. The dissolved salt, or brine, will then be discharged directly to the sea. The size and shape of the caverns will be controlled using an established technique known as Solution Mining Under Gas (SMUG). At each well location, a monopod tower facility will be installed, to house the solution mining equipment required during the construction phase, and the gas injection and extraction wellhead equipment that will be required for the storage operations. It is proposed that the monopod towers will be drilled into position, although there is a contingency for them to be piled into place if drilling is not feasible.

A short pipeline and methanol feeder pipe will connect each wellhead facility to an 8 km. ‘ring main’ linking all the caverns. The ‘ring main’ will consist of a single 36″ diameter gas pipeline with a ‘piggy-backed’ 4″ methanol feeder line. Two 36″ diameter carbon steel pipelines will connect the ‘ring main’ to the onshore gas compressor station at Barrow. A 4″ methanol feeder line will be ‘piggy-backed’ on one of these pipelines. Power for the offshore facilities will be provided via a single cable laid alongside the more southerly of the two pipelines, with individual connections to each monopod tower. The offshore sections of the pipeline and cable systems up to the point of connection with the ‘ring main’ will be approximately 19 km. in length. The pipeline and cable systems will be trenched, and the trenches allowed to backfill naturally. Where necessary this will be supported by imported backfill. The trenches for the two 36″ pipelines will be approximately 20 metres apart, and the trench for the power cable will be approximately 10 m from the more southerly of the two pipelines. The two pipelines will cross the Barrow Offshore Windfarm power cable and the ‘ring main’ will cross the Rivers Field export pipeline and the Isle of Man power cables. All crossings will be suitably protected.

Note.

  1. The multiple cavern structure would surely allow different gases to be stored. Natural Gas! Hydrogen? Methanol? Carbon Dioxide?
  2. On this page of the Stag Energy web site, they state that forty caverns could be created, with each having the capability of storing around 75 million cubic metres of working gas.
  3. Converting that amount of natural gas to gigawatt-hours (GWh) gives a figure of around 800 GWh per cavern.
  4. This page on the Statista web site, shows that we used 811446 GWh of gas in 2020, so we will need around a thousand of these caverns to store our gas needs for a year.

It sounds just like the sort of gas storage project we need for a harsh winter.

In Do BP And The Germans Have A Cunning Plan For European Energy Domination?, I talked about BP’s plans for wind farms in the Irish Sea and speculated that they would create hydrogen offshore for feeding into the UK gas network.

The Gateway Gas Storage Facility would be ideal for holding the hydrogen created by electrolysis offshore.

Conclusion

The deal does seem to be one between equals, who have an enormous amount of practical knowledge of the energy industry.

I also think, that it will see full development of the Gateway Gas Storage Facility.

January 8, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment