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Conversion of LNG Terminals for Liquid Hydrogen or Ammonia

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Charley Rattan's picture
World Hydrogen Leader , Charley Rattan Associates

UK based offshore wind & hydrogen corporate advisor and trainer; Faculty member World Hydrogen Leaders. Delivering global hydrogen and offshore wind corporate investment advice, business...

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  • Nov 7, 2022

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Conversion of LNG Terminals for Liquid Hydrogen or Ammonia

Conversion from LNG to liquid hydrogen (LH2) is technically challenging but feasible, however, the current lack of practical large-scale implementations does not allow drawing final conclusions.  Using LH2 in LNG terminals is considered to be very challenging, as its lower boiling point at a temperature of -253°C requires extensive adjustments of components' thermal insulation. However, if it is planned to regasify hydrogen shortly after the import or intend to use the boil-off gas for other use cases, keeping the boil-off rate as low as for LNG may not be necessary. 

The risk of hydrogen embrittlement in materials excludes the use of some common steels used in LNG tanks. It is strongly recommended to consider the material compatibility with LH2 in the design phase of the LNG terminal. For example, by using high-alloy stainless steels suitable for very low temperatures (e.g. 304L or 316L). Otherwise, components like the storage tank, as the largest share of the investment, will not be compatible to LH2.  If LH2-compatible steel is used in the construction of the storage tank, and a higher boil-off rate is acceptable, around 50% of the LNG investment cost could be reused with LH2. 

The use of thermodynamic valuable “coldness” of the LH2 at the (import) terminal location is seen as a valuable input for possible neighbouring industry or chemical processes that can lead to significant CO2 emission reduction. This is an especially promising potential for air separation or liquefaction plants needing cooling capacity at very low temperatures. This potential benefit has received less attention so far and should be taken into account in future considerations.

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