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Super conductive gas pipelines

Make the best of it for energy transport
  [vote for,

There is a lot of energy around in various places of the world, mainly solar. The problem is transport. The ideal method would be electricity because it only requires copper or aluminum cables. The problem with electric transport is resistance loss. Superconductive cables eliminate resistance loss, but so far they have to be at very low temperature, so here is the idea.

Build a gas pipeline for liquid hydrogen from, let’s say, a North African desert, where solar energy density for electrolysis is high, to Europe, where energy is needed. It does take some thermal insulation, but thermal losses are acceptable because hydrogen that turns from liquid to gas is converted into electric power at intermediate power stations along the pipeline. The electricity is fed into superconducting cables that run inside the pipeline at liquid H2 temperatures.

Consumers along the pipeline take off electricity and hydrogen, something for Palermo, ... , Innsbruck, ..., München, ... , Kopenhagen, ..., Hammerfest. Prices vary; Palermo may have low gas prices because most hydrogen is still liquid. In Hammerfest electricity will be cheaper because most hydrogen has been turned into gas for cooling the superconductors. Overall Hammerfest will pay the most because it is so far away, but still less than it would pay for just electricity,

kbecker, Jun 16 2004

Hydrogen tanker http://www.phoenixp....net/cryotanker.htm
[kbecker, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Hydrogen storage http://solstice.cre...torage.html#Storage
Watch out on the road. If a truck has the tag "Liquified gas" it usually is Nitrogen, but sometimes its Hydrogen. [kbecker, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Hydrogen Pipelines http://www.bellona....t_6-2002/22915.html
[Worldgineer, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       Let me get this straight: Large supply of potentially explosive gas, high voltages/currents, politically unstable countries and a vital power link to Europe. Is this an idea or a disaster movie?
david_scothern, Jun 16 2004

       for all of the reasources this would take, it would be better to invest that capital in developing room temperature super conductors.
SystemAdmin, Jun 16 2004

       The tanker in (link) transports liquid Hydrogen and can run on the evaporating hydrogen. The pipeline doesn't need that much energy to run the pumps, so there will be some left to convert to electricity.   

       [BrauBeaton] I have carried liquid Hydrogen in a cheap Korean thermos container. The container consisted of two concentric tubes of stainless steel that were welded together at the upper rim and closed at the bottom. Between the tubes was vacuum. The container was even open at the top. A liter of liquid Hydrogen lasted hours in that container.   

       //Nigeria petrol pipeline// You can sabotage about anything. Hydrogen has the advantage that it moves up in the atmosphere and disperses fairly quickly. It won't do long term damage to the environment or people the way oil does.   

       //Hindenburg// The main fuel for the fire was paint on the outer skin. Look at pictures to see where the fire is initially located. The Hydrogen burnt much later because it didn't have any Oxygen around. I did not suggest to send liquid Oxygen through the pipeline too.
kbecker, Jun 16 2004

       I like this. The method suggested for hydrogen transport is widely halfbaked among future-hydrogen-economy engineers, and [kbecker] is just adding superconducting wires to the mix as an added incentive. +
Worldgineer, Jun 16 2004

       //Watch out on the road....//
FYI, a truck full of hydrogen would have the number 1049 emblazoned on diamond shaped HAZMAT signs on all sides.

       Other refrigerated gases I've seen on roads:
Nitrogen (as you mentioned): 1977
Oxygen: 1073
Carbon dioxide: 2187
krelnik, Jun 16 2004

       Hmm..Let's see...reduce the transmission losses by supercooling the transmission lines. OK, I'm with you so far. Achieve this supercooling by evaporating some of the liquid hydrogen in the pipeline? OK, that's definitely technically feasible. Achieve an overall energy savings by doing this? I don't think so.   

       Remember, it takes energy to compress the gas to a liquid state. This wouldn't be any more efficient than refrigerating the entire transmission line with a dedicated system, since you're just operating an open-loop coolant path. Any cooling efficiency gains would be purely due to cooler local temperatures at the liquid H2 production point.   

       The savings wouldn't even come close to break-even.   

       Add in the potential for a flammable gas leak in the vicinity of high-voltage electrical transmission, and you've got a potentially very dangerous situation. (an event that causes a pipeline leak may cause a power line break, and vice versa.)   

Freefall, Jun 16 2004

       [kbecker], this is mildly off-topic but interested me... when you exposed LH2 to air, are you certain that the H2 wasn't gradually boiling off, and that some of the lost LH2 was being replaced by fractions condensing out of the air? In this way, although you would be losing some H2, the liquid volume would not decrease much.
david_scothern, Jun 16 2004

       Hmm, building the pipeline for the purpose of cooling the transmision lines doesn't really make sense, but if the piplines are being built anyway to trasport liquid hydrogen, presumably from someplace where electricity can be produced cheaply and cleanly, then adding superconducting transmision lines to the mix could be a verry efficent way to move electricity. Obiviously there are some safety issues to work out, but I bet clever engineers could create a relatively safe system with some time.
tedhaubrich, Jun 16 2004

       [Freefall] The cooling and compression would be done in the area where the Hydrogen is made by electrolysis. There will be ample energy around there anyway, otherwise you woun't put the plant there.   

       The document about "Hydrogen Storage" (link) actually lists as a disadvantage that //To cool one pound (0.45 kg) of hydrogen requires 5 kWh of electrical energy//. In this case it would be a double advantage. First, it means that hydrogen absorbes a lot of energy for the phase transition liquid to gas, so less evaporates during transport. Second, at the destination even more energy can be gained by evaporating hydrogen and using the cold for refrigeration or running a "steam" engine where the boiler is at room temperature and the condenser at LH2 temperature. Working medium would probably something like Argon instead of water.   

       [david_scothern] There was frozen water in the container at the end, but not enough to make up for the whole volume. In betwen there was certainly some LN2 in the container and we had a long discussion if we could see a bluesh discoloration from dissolved Oxygen. I didn't see it.
kbecker, Jun 16 2004

       kbecker, I'd rethink this one a bit. There are a lot of reasons, but I guess I'll just toss "Hindenburg" out to get that ball rolling.
contracts, Jun 16 2004

       //Watch out on the road....//
FYI, a truck full of hydrogen would have the number 1049 emblazoned on diamond shaped HAZMAT signs on all sides.

       Other refrigerated gases I've seen on roads:
Nitrogen (as you mentioned): 1977
Oxygen: 1073
Carbon dioxide: 2187
krelnik, Jun 16 2004


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