Valmet joins a research project to develop hydrogen underground storage

May 10, 2024

Valmet is joining forces with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), and 15 industrial partners in a pioneering research project called Hydrogen UnderGround (HUG).

This groundbreaking initiative focuses on the underground storage of hydrogen, a critical component in the transition to a more sustainable energy future. This is the first public hydrogen storage endeavor of this scale in Finland. The project is co-funded by Business Finland, and it is also a part of Valmet’s Beyond Circularity R&D program and ecosystem, which aims to enable our customer industries to shift to carbon neutrality and facilitate the green transition. 

Hydrogen underground storage is widely seen as playing a critical role in the green hydrogen value chain in balancing the production of and demand for hydrogen. Storing hydrogen above ground proves impractical for cost and safety reasons. Preliminary reviews confirm underground storage is the most affordable large-scale safe option. 

With over 50 years of experience in serving the hydrogen industry, Valmet brings valuable technology knowledge to the project. The company’s portfolio covers both valve and automation solutions for the hydrogen industry. By actively participating in the HUG project, Valmet is contributing to the advancement of hydrogen storage technologies and supporting the global transition toward a greener, more sustainable energy landscape.

“Our long experience and comprehensive portfolio cover most applications in the industrial use of hydrogen. Today, Valmet offers a wide range of segment, butterfly, ball, and other valves for hydrogen applications, ranging from electrolysis to carbon recovery. The valves operate in both low- and high-pressure electrolyzers operating at temperatures of up to 700 °C. The valve portfolio covers different types of electrolyzers, where the most common technology is now alkaline, PEM, and SOEC electrolyzers. Valmet’s Flow Control portfolio also covers high temperatures and pressures,” says Ville Kähkönen, Director Renewable Energy & Gases, Flow Control business line, Valmet.

The HUG research project seeks answers also to critical automation technology questions of the storage concepts that are essential also for the whole hydrogen production and consumption ecosystem. One of them is safety. Safety is paramount when planning an urban area’s large-scale underground storage facility. Valmet’s recently launched web-based Valmet DNAe Distributed Control System ensures seamless data security, collaboration, and information flow.

“The Valmet DNAe Distributed Control System has been engineered for demanding process control and emphasizing performance and availability. The system architecture is cybersecure by design, and it’s been developed with a design philosophy to empower people to perform and collaborate better across the organization,” Juha-Pekka Jalkanen, Director, Process Automation, Automation Systems business line, Valmet.

User experience is an essential part of safety because systems must be easy to use. Valmet’s long-standing focus on this topic can now be extended to the HUG project.  

End-user roles are becoming more diverse, placing new demands on organizations, people, and systems. In this project especially, safety and remote operating will play a major role. Valmet DNAe will need to support different ways of working, which have also been one of our development focuses in recent years. User experience and usability have been one of the core focuses, and we have invested effort in making the system easy to learn, user-friendly, and efficient to use. The target is to collaborate this year between HUG and the SEEDForest COACH project led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland which is a co-research project that focuses on future operating concepts and adapting new technologies to users’ work.

“Minimizing the explosion hazard is paramount. We will study and develop the automation of explosive areas during this project,” adds Valtteri Mustonen, Product Manager, Energy and Process Systems, Automation Systems business line, Valmet and Valmet’s representative in HUG’s steering team.