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Hydrogen in Action

Pioneering the underground hydrogen scene

For bulk storage of very large amounts of gaseous hydrogen, underground salt caverns are an option. The gas has to be purified and compressed before it can be injected into the cavern. Hydrogen-filled cavities can act as a backup for a pipeline network.

Linde, a founding member of the Hydrogen Council, has been operating the world’s first commercial hydrogen high-purity cavern for over a decade and supplies some of its pipeline hydrogen customers out of this hydrogen storage facility in Texas.

The underground storage cavern is designed to provide Linde’s customers with hydrogen during periods of planned and unplanned peak demand. The storage facility is integrated into Linde’s 340-mile (545 km) hydrogen pipeline that serves more than 50 refineries and chemical plants from Sweeny, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Linde’s Gulf Coast pipeline network has the capability of supplying 1.2 billion cubic feet (32 million cubic meters) per day of hydrogen on a steady state basis, with a daily peak capacity of 1.3 billion cubic feet (35 million cubic meters).

Q. How does the existing cavern increase hydrogen availability?

By being integrated directly into the heart of Linde’s 340-mile Gulf Coast hydrogen pipeline system, the cavern can meet a customer’s planned or unplanned hydrogen requirement on an instantaneous basis.

For example, most refiners supply a significant portion of their hydrogen needs from their own hydrogen sources and, at times, these sources become unavailable. In the past, refiners adjusted their refinery processes when hydrogen wasn’t immediately available if their supply was lost. The cavern provides that on-line, back-up supply.

Q. Why use a cavern for availability? Couldn’t this be done with hydrogen production plants?

Gas pipeline systems operate with limited storage so Linde must continually match system supply to meet customer demand. In the case of our cavern in Texas, the initial driver was the fact that hydrogen production plants cannot be instantaneously brought on and offline
without large inefficiencies and significant equipment wear and tear and there are times when refinery hydrogen demand goes unmet, and the refiner is forced to adjust its production process. The on-line storage cavern changes this availability paradigm.

The same holds true for renewables – the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow, but the demand is permanently there and we need to make sure we have a solution for matching supply with demand, reliably and economically.

Q. What other capabilities does Linde have along the hydrogen value chain?

As one of the world’s leading industrial gases and engineering companies, Linde covers the full spectrum of the hydrogen value chain – from production, through processing, to storage and distribution. We can help customers and industry stakeholders navigate through the
complexities of the transition to a zero-carbon economy. Our engineers work with customers in identifying their path to zero emissions and provide support to design, build and operate that project, every step of the way.

Today, Linde has the largest liquid hydrogen capacity and distribution system in the world. We ensure reliable and safe delivery of hydrogen through an unrivaled pipeline network of approximately 1,000 km and the largest fleet of hydrogen trailers in the world. With over 200 hydrogen refueling stations and 80 hydrogen electrolysis plants worldwide, we are at the forefront of the energy transition.

Image: © Linde

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