The University of Pittsburgh and Peoples Gas, an Essential Utilities company, are teaming up to explore the use of hydrogen as a future energy source.
Together, the organizations announced today they will enter a research partnership to study the potential of safely and securely transporting hydrogen through its natural gas systems.
Initially, engineers at Peoples and Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering will conduct benchmarking and research of existing information and data related to the distribution of hydrogen, focusing on technical issues involved with using natural gas pipelines to transport hydrogen or a blend of hydrogen and natural gas.
Following this initial research phase, the organizations expect to work together on a pilot project to test the impacts of hydrogen on Peoples’ natural gas distribution infrastructure.
Western Pennsylvania is in the heart of the Appalachian Basin, which has abundant natural gas reserves that the energy industry could leverage to become a leader in the development and commercialization of hydrogen. Hydrogen’s unique physical and chemical characteristics require answers to technical questions, such as its effects on pipeline materials, to determine whether natural gas utilities can safely and effectively transport it through existing infrastructure.
Hydrogen potential use as a supplement to natural gas could have an important role in future energy transition strategies in our region to significantly reduce emissions.
Brian Gleeson, the Harry S. Tack Professor and Chair of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS), and Dr. Doug Konitzer, adjunct professor in the department, will lead the project. Both are metallurgists with expertise in materials science and engineering.
Mike Huwar, president of Peoples, said, “Hydrogen has the potential to transform the way we heat our homes and power our businesses, using the existing natural gas distribution system.”
Brian Gleeson said, “This is an outstanding partnership of capabilities. Although much progress has been made over the past decades, further research and testing are needed for the safe and affordable implementation of carbon-neutral hydrogen technologies.”