Helping hand for hydrogen energy and CO2 storage

Environmental challenges linked to hydrogen energy and CO2 storage are a step closer to being solved, thanks to a project at Poitiers-Futuroscope. With a unique new mechanical testing platform, researchers are assessing the feasibility of carrying hydrogen over natural gas pipelines and of storing CO2 in facilities lined with rubber seals.

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Testing platform for carrying hydrogen and storing CO2 Testing platform for carrying hydrogen and storing CO2

“This unique new testing platform opens up significant prospects for the development of hydrogen as a new source of energy and for storing CO2.”
Jean-Claude Grandidier, Professor, Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et d’Aérotechnique in Poitiers

The new facility is part of a project hosted by the Graduate School of Engineering in Aeronautics, Transport, Mechanics and Energy (ENSMA). Project results could pave the way for faster rollout of innovative clean energy solutions.

High-tech platform

The development of hydrogen as an energy source and the possibility of permanently burying CO2 are vital for the EU, due to declining fossil energy resources and increasing demand to reduce CO2 emissions. Yet much remains to be done to develop storage structures and a reliable transportation network.

The platform for mechanical testing under hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxode (CO2) project addresses some of these challenges. It is an EU co-funded project run by ENSMA, the young graduate engineers school next to Poitiers-Futuroscope, a European theme park based on multimedia, cinematographic and audiovisual techniques.

The size of a large wardrobe, the platform is in the Laboratory of Materials, Mechanics and Physics (LMPM). This facility conducts fundamental studies and analyses the behaviour and durability of materials under very different conditions of stress, temperature and environment.

Work started in May 2007, with several industry and university partners. It included characterising new generation steels and polymers, to see if these new materials could be used in hydrogen transport pipelines, calling on pipelines designed for natural gas. Research suggests pipes may crack in the presence of hydrogen. Other tests are focused on rubber seals for use in CO2 storage facilities, since this gas can affect their integrity.

Testing times

The LMPM mechanical testing platform has been used for testing metallic materials, polymers or composites, with pressurised hydrogen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas at temperatures up to 150°C. The aim now is to reduce the risk of pipeline leakage and rupture, and optimal use of existing or new pipelines.

The platform will also improve knowledge of complex interactions between the presence of gas and the mechanisms of deformation and damage of materials. This should lead to better materials prediction models.

Draft date