Blog: New Fuels, New Risks – Rethinking the Pipeline Infrastructure

The energy industry has a well-deserved reputation for innovation and risk management. Its capacity to find, extract, process, transmit, and distribute a range of high-quality products to customers with very different needs is likely unsurpassed by any other industry.

Given the dynamics currently playing out across the world economy, the industry will need all this accumulated experience and expertise to maintain this reputation. Decarbonization, combined with many companies pursuing ambitious environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives, is driving step-change developments in clean energy initiatives. For the energy sector, these developments present challenges to midstream operators from multiple technical, environmental, and commercial perspectives.

NDT Global and sister business unit, Dynamic Risk, are at the forefront of addressing these challenges. We have been a leading solutions provider in the energy sector for many years. We help our customers maintain the reliability of their assets for the safety of their employees and the public. We help our customers maximize the value from their pipeline operations. Like them, and you, NDT Global is now planning for future challenges.

Hydrogen – The Next Big Thing?

The potential for hydrogen as a clean fuel has been understood for many years. After all, it is one of the most common elements on earth, and when combusted in air, the only substance produced is water. While many are familiar with the economic value of hydrogen, as well as its critical safety considerations, other practicalities, such as the challenges of inspection regimes for hydrogen infrastructure, are typically less well understood.

For example, while the energy industry – and NDT Global– has long experience managing the essential task of pipeline inspection, a key industry issue now is understanding how hydrogen interacts with current industry standard systems, components, and processes. Questions like how prolonged exposure to hydrogen affects the integrity of pipelines or how it influences valves and seals need answers. Equally, what are the ideal inspection practices that ensure accurate results while maintaining a leak-free safety record for a more volatile fuel type? If hydrogen is to achieve its full potential as a clean fuel source, many questions like these will need answers.

Evidently, the way forward for a clean fuel future is complex. At NDT Global, our vision is clear. We are committed to providing the same level of innovation, commitment, and experience to the challenge ahead as we have provided for carbon-based fuel sources.

Developing a Roadmap for Hydrogen

While there has been significant research over the past 20 years on the practical applications of hydrogen as an energy source, the imperative now is to build more substantial plans to roll out hydrogen-based energy platforms. This is where theory meets reality head-on and where the Power of Clarity that NDT Global offers and the expertise of our partners and customers begin to bear fruit.

To help develop these plans, NDT Global and Dynamic Risk have focused on multiple initiatives that address many of these challenges. We have helped to create the Emerging Fuels Committee, collaborating with many partners, including industry consultants and our industry-leading pipeline customers, to answer some of the practical questions about developing an infrastructure for hydrogen. The committee is also extending this research into other possible fuel types, such as ethanol, ammonia, compressed natural gas (CNG), and synthetic fuels. The committee is fortunate that it can call on expertise from numerous industry relationships.

It seems fair to say, even at this early stage, that the structure and size of the committee will grow as it identifies new insights and challenges, best solved by welcoming new organizations onto the committee.

We are also working to develop the practical, best-practice operational methodologies that will help customers to transition to a more complex energy environment.

Bringing the Power of Clarity to Hydrogen

A vital issue for the industry is that many unanswered questions remain to be resolved before hydrogen becomes a mainstream clean fuel. For example, given its unique properties, what is the right design and specification of equipment used to transport hydrogen blends in pipelines? How do you best apply available industry safety management system standards, including API 1173, to the management of hydrogen and other emerging fuels?

These – and many other – issues will be the focus of the committee as it helps facilitate solutions to a range of industry-wide challenges. It anticipates commissioning research from universities and industry consultants to help provide practical answers. Those involved will also update and adapt their unique collective systems and processes to help understand, define, and commercialize a range of critical capabilities that hydrogen and other emerging fuels will need to help drive their widespread adoption.

Committee members anticipate many opportunities to publicize the lessons learned and the experience gained via a range of industry conferences, publications, as well as their own websites. NDT Global, Dynamic Risk, and the rest of the committee hope this insight will provide the Power of Clarity to deliver industry guidance and stimulate debate around industry best practices for hydrogen.

NDT Global will also continue to work closely with our clients to understand the technical, operational, and commercial challenges that energy infrastructure providers will face with the adoption of clean energy models. We will both focus on identifying practical solutions that help meet their business needs.

Learn more about how we’re embracing the opportunities hydrogen offers here.

Discover the Power of Clarity.

Whether you’re ready to schedule an inspection or have questions about our process, our team can help get you started.

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