About the project

One of the key concepts underpinning the Green Deal adopted by the EU in 2019 is the need to combat climate change by limiting global temperature rise to 1.5ºC or less by the end of the century, achieving zero CO2 emissions and neutrality for all other greenhouse gases.
Among the most viable options for achieving these goals, H2 has emerged as a required fuel and commodity needed for the decarbonization of the generation, distribution, storage, and energy consumption.

However, the boost in H2 production and its introduction in the energy market has arised one important issue: leakage of H2 during its storage, transportation, and distribution.
This leakage has two unfavourable side effects: first, it poses a safety risk due to the wide flammability range of H2; second, it contributes to a net emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) by reducing hydroxyl radicals (OH), which lengthens methane’s atmospheric lifetime and affects the development of tropospheric ozone, with an estimated accumulated effect of 5.8% over 100 years.

The uptake of H2 may allow not only the reduction of carbon emissions but also the decrease of global temperature, as it may have a “cooling effect” on the atmosphere, assuming the reduction of CH4 emissions due to the switch to H2 and that H2 emissions are tightly controlled. The BEIS report on the atmospheric implications of increased H2 use concludes that the adoption of H2 as an energy source could reduce CO2 emissions and provide a significant climate benefit, which could be maximized by maintaining low levels of H2 emissions.

With this premise, the OPTHYCS project aims to develop a new sensor technology that will lead to reinforce the safety level of H2 applications, as well as to anticipate and therefore minimize H2 releases and limit an eventual climate impact, from production to storage and distribution, both in new infrastructure, working with pure H2, and in reused natural gas plants and pipelines, contributing to a safe and economically viable implementation of H2 production, transportation and storage processes.

OPHTYCS aims to increase both the safe and cost-effectiveness while minimizing environmental impact of the operation with both pure and natural gas blended H2 through the development of continuous and fast-response leak detectors based on optical fibre sensors technologies in remote locations.

These newly developed sensors will be able to adapt to existing facilities and new infrastructure and analyze and classify leak types and sources based on risk, location, leak impact, probability of severity, and predictability through continuous predictive maintenance combined with increased speed of response. This sensor technology will be tested in several use cases with both pure H2 and H2 blended with natural gas: open and closed pipelines, H2 refueling stations (HRS), midstream sites, and existing natural gas wells; the results obtained in these use cases will be used to tailor solutions to safety, environmental, and economic considerations.