UK project focuses on composite pipes for hydrogen

The National Composites Centre (NCC) in the UK is launching a project testing on the permeability of thermoplastic composite pipes (TCPs) for hydrogen distribution.

“It is projected that upstream distribution pipelines for hydrogen will grow significantly in the coming decades if plans for hydrogen production and end use are realised,” the NCC said. “UK industrial clusters and initiatives are now developing a local hydrogen value chain, which will require the transportation and distribution of hydrogen within the region and between the hydrogen generation, storage and end user infrastructures.”

According to the center, composite TCPs could be a viable alternative to steel pipes for connecting hydrogen production sites either directly with end users or into hydrogen transmission lines, as they are easier to deploy, are potentially lower cost, and avoid issues around embrittlement of steel. However, there is very little information about hydrogen permeability in TCPs compared to steel which creates uncertainty around the performance of different composite materials in hydrogen pipe systems.

The company plans to test pipe prototypes made using automated tape winding on a bespoke machine which will be installed at the NCC in late 2023.

“High performing transportation and storage of hydrogen is one of the technology barriers that needs to be overcome to guarantee containment and leak prevention,” said Matt Hocking, head of energy. “Measuring the permeability of hydrogen through thermoplastic composites is a key challenge that will be addressed in the project."

Organisations interested in joining the project should email