A challenge for valves
The hydrogen market is undoubtedly an attractive one – but with high expectations with regard to design, quality and material stability. One reason for example is the high level of explosiveness of this gas. The highest standards are therefore required when selecting valves – so internal and external impermeability are of the utmost importance. And: “In order to store the same amount of energy, a higher pressure is usually required,” explains Product Manager Stefan Schenk. Furthermore, the operating temperature spectrum is significantly greater: At atmospheric pressure, hydrogen only liquefies at a temperature of minus 253° C. In addition, when designing valves and choosing the material, hydrogen embrittlement must be taken into account.
In order to ensure the suitability of the valves, the industry relies on hydrogen emission tests. Hartmann Valves also offers material suitability testing. Comprehensive internal leak tests ensure that statutory thresholds are met and volatile emissions minimized.
Appropriate controls are required
The hydrogen industry is also increasingly shaped by digitization and automation. “For us, this means that there are constantly new developments in control solutions for valves,” explains Peter Wegjan, sales engineer for special ball valves at Hartmann Valves. Here, they work together with actuator suppliers “so to be able to offer controls tailored to the application”.
One supplier of actuators for example is AUMA. “Our explosion-proof actuators are suitable for hydrogen,” emphasizes Kai Ewald, Head of Sales Oil & Gas. AUMA actuators are used, for example, in the power-to-gas plant of Windgas Haßfurt, where excess wind energy is converted into H2. They are used for feeding hydrogen into the gas network.
The market is booming – with consequences for dimensioning, too. Corresponding systems, modules and pipelines are therefore getting larger and larger. Waldemar Pruss Armaturenfabrik notes a trend towards the increasing importance of systems being maintenance-free. They are therefore offering special valves for hydrogen applications, which on the one hand meet standards and norms, yet on the other also dispense with maintenance-prone components made of elastomers.
Big things are awaiting the industry
Some things still need clarifying – that is why the regulations of the German Association of Gas and Water (DVGW) are being revised and adapted to the future use of hydrogen. The project aim is to investigate the possible applications and limitations of shut-off valves with regard to their H2 impermeability. In addition, standardisation in Europe is relatively unclear. Some companies apply international standards and databases – such as ASME B31.12 for hydrogen piping and pipelines – and develop an internal standard from this. However, the dynamics of the hydrogen market will also give a strong boost to standardisation. After all, the valve sector is expecting great things as to its potential.
Trends and highlights from the valves and fittings industry can be experienced at VALVE WORLD EXPO from 3 to 5 December 2024 in Düsseldorf. Current industry and product information can be found on the internet portal at www.valveworldexpo.de.