The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources (RES) is one of the key measures to mitigate climate change and build a sustainable, reliable, and secure energy supply system. Electricity supply from RES is dictated by natural variations in wind and solar influx, and the mismatch between energy generation and demand is a major challenge for the future global energy market. Hence, energy storage that mitigates variability is considered a key element in the energy supply chain for the 21th century.
Hydrogen is an emission-free energy carrier produced from surplus electricity or natural gas, and can have a major role in energy transition efforts. Available storage capacity today is, however, insufficient to balance supply and local demand for future RES implementation, and hydrogen storage capacity must improve to accommodate widespread implementation. Hydrogen storage in subsurface, porous, geological formations like saline aquifers and depleted natural gas reservoirs represent widely available large-scale storage capacity.
The HyPE project connects physical and microbial processes that determine subsurface working gas capacity, deliverability and injection rates for hydrogen in porous media, currently largely undescribed by the scientific community. With a cross-disciplinary approach combining flow physics, microbiology and mathematics, we assess important fine-scale mechanisms for hydrogen storage in subsurface formations.
Hydrogen is an energy carrier with the potential to play an essential part in achieving deep emission cuts and improved global energy security and resilience. Hydrogen has multiple roles in energy transition: enables long-term storage; assists integration of renewable electricity; allows for the distribution across regions and seasons. Because hydrogen can be produced and stored at times of low energy demand, and utilized when needed, developing large-scale storage opportunities for hydrogen is essential.
Lessons learned from geological CO2 sequestration and natural gas storage are transferable, but critical parameters like solubility, diffusion and ecological influence are unique to hydrogen. Hydrogen flow, trapping and interaction and mixing with methane with increased microbial activity are not yet described in context of subsurface porous media storage in depleted gas reservoirs and saline aquifers. Understanding these coupled processes, and their impact on working gas capacity, deliverability and injection rate are of utmost importance for developing large-scale hydrogen storage. Hence, targeted fundamental scientific studies like the HyPE project are critically needed to assess feasibility and the overall applicability of hydrogen storage.
The HyPE project addresses fundamental knowledge needs for subsurface porous media hydrogen storage as a renewable energy storage technology. With a truly cross-disciplinary approach, we combine new laboratory testing within flow physics and microbiology to develop original mathematical modeling capabilities. Our objectives are beyond the current state-of the-art for this emerging hydrogen research field, with synergistic laboratory efforts on flow functions and bio-geochemical reactions corroborating in development of an open-source, fully coupled numerical simulator dedicated for subsurface hydrogen porous media storage. Our ambition is to contribute with new scientific understanding to enable the net-zero society.