Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Common hydrogen separation systems and technologies are developed for hydrogen rich streams. Recovery of hydrogen from streams with only a low concentration of hydrogen is currently expensive and inefficient, or reduces the pressure of the bulk gas and therefore its value. Separation technologies need to be developed or improved to make recovery of hydrogen from such gas streams economically attractive and energy efficient.

A main application would be the separation of hydrogen from the natural gas grid, thus enabling its use for the storage and distribution of hydrogen. Further applications could be found in separating hydrogen from mixtures produced in chemical or biological processes, where it otherwise would be used to generate heat or even be vented.

This topic calls for proposals to separate hydrogen from the natural gas grid with typical hydrogen concentrations below 10% by volume. Technology proposed for development is preferably also suitable for separation of hydrogen from other gas mixtures. The energy used for separation of hydrogen should not exceed 5 kWh/kg H2 separated.

Expected Impact:

The project will show the feasibility of cost (<1.5€/kg) and energy effective (<5 kWh/kg) extraction of hydrogen from very low hydrogen concentration streams, in particular the extraction of hydrogen that has been blended into the natural gas grid at a scale that is relevant for the final application.

The developed technology will provide a route to:

  • Increase the value of hydrogen blended into the natural gas grid, improving the economics of central hydrogen production from excess renewable energy couples with natural gas grid injection
  • Reduced cost, and therefore increased use of hydrogen from very dilute hydrogen streams in energy and transport applications


This topic calls for proposals to develop hydrogen separation technology and to validate the system by separating hydrogen from natural gas/hydrogen mixtures. It is expected that the technology readiness level at the end of the project is at least 5, meaning that the function of system has been tested in a relevant environment (for example a resident environment in case the hydrogen is used for a residential fuel cell system, or a refuelling station if fuel cell vehicles are targeted). Validation should be done at least 25% scale for the application (for example above 25 kg/d of hydrogen separated for retail stations). Proposals should justify that the scale of validation is relevant and indicate how the system can be scaled up.

Proposals should further aim to address the economic feasibility of the system by comparing the cost of hydrogen obtained from the separation system with alternative sources of hydrogen, like reformation of a natural gas hydrogen mixture as well as with state of the art separation methods. This analysis should include the full chain and all aspect relevant for the application (examples could be the loss of energy in the NG pipeline or pressure losses for filing stations).

The project should include:

  • Development of a hydrogen separation technology that can separate hydrogen from gas mixtures below 10% of hydrogen
  • Validation that the technology can separate hydrogen from natural gas/hydrogen mixtures with the specified hydrogen concentration giving hydrogen quality that can be used for hydrogen operated fuel cells, for example ISO14687 or updates thereof. The system should be in operation for a minimum of 800 hrs and enable extrapolation of findings to full scale and to a lifetime relevant for the application
  • Cost assessment of hydrogen separation at full scale. As a guideline maximum cost of €1.50/kg of hydrogen separation are expected for full scale application. This would make distribution of hydrogen via the NG grid competitive other ways of distributing hydrogen and would make it economic to separate the hydrogen instead of converting it with the natural gas. Higher expected separation cost would have to be justified in the proposal
  • Compensation for pressure loss of the hydrogen as well as the bulk gas should be included in the cost analysis if relevant for the application. For example, if the technology removes hydrogen containing gas from the natural gas grid, the cost of recompression and re-injection of the remaining natural gas into the NG grid has to be included
  • A recommendation for the next steps for the development of the technology

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