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Is your gas network ready for hydrogen blending? Three things you need to consider.


17 August 2023

Michael Barough

Valves account for 60% of all fugitive emissions in some parts of the energy sector

Valves continue to be overlooked in the energy transition, but since they are considered to account for 60% of all fugitive emissions in some parts of the energy sector, it’s important that we take a closer look.

Valves aren’t the most exciting part of any energy system or gas network, but they are vital. And while the current offering works it isn’t necessarily doing the job well. But, because they tick the box of what they are required to do, there has been little motivation to make them better (for around 100 years, to be precise). That’s where Oxford Flow can help.

With the energy transition flowing in fast, and hydrogen considered part of the answer to achieve emissions targets, is your existing infrastructure suitable? It’s unlikely.

Set standards to keep a lid on things

Hydrogen is a volatile and buoyant fuel that can ignite at 75% concentration, and its small molecular structure makes its notorious for leaking, which means networks will need to make changes to existing infrastructure to introduce a blend of hydrogen at any concentration. That’s why we developed our industry-leading hydrogen-ready IM-S gas regulators.

But, despite everything that we know about the potential dangers of blending hydrogen, there has not been an agreed industry standard introduced that ensures that infrastructure or equipment is hydrogen-ready.

Our IM series regulators provide industry leading levels of reliability, performance, and emissions reduction. We designed and engineered our gas regulators with hydrogen in mind, but the big issue came when we wanted to prove our claims – there was no standard. So, we took matters into our own hands and partnered with a third-party test house to demonstrate that our solution is hydrogen ready. This included:

  • Cyclic stress testing up to 100 bar with both hydrogen and helium
  • Age testing to simulate use over differing time periods
  • Conducting air tests up to 150 bar

The testing conditions significantly exceeded normal operating levels and our own factory acceptance criteria, but it was important to us that with a lack of standard in place, that all testing was strict, proved the viability of the product and simulated reliability over time. After all, our products are simple and reliable by design.  

Learn more about our IM-S wafer gas regulator

Gas networks need to change infrastructure to introduce a blend of hydrogen at any concentration.

Make maintenance work for you

As manufacturers phase out existing valves it is also becoming harder to maintain, repair, and replace valves with a like for like system

In the UK, many gas distribution and transmission systems date back to the 1960s and are, frankly, not ready for blended fuel sources. As manufacturers phase out existing valves from standard product lines, it is also becoming harder to maintain, repair, or replace valves with a like for like system.

To tackle this, we developed our IM series gas regulators so that they can be retrofitted to existing networks. IM-S doesn’t have a diaphragm – the leading cause of failure in regulators – making it inherently more stable and responsive at a wider range of flow rates. In fact, it’s virtually maintenance free over the first 10 years of installation. The result? Network operators and utilities optimise performance, save money and provide more stable gas delivery to end-users.

Need a top entry gas regulator? Check out IM-C

Eliminating emissions whilst future-proofing systems

Reducing emissions must be a top priority for operators, but they are throwing their money and resources down the drain the longer they delay replacing the valves in their systems.

Recognising this would be a growing problem, we set out to reimagine valve design and develop solutions that would address key industry challenges before they even became challenges.

By removing the diaphragm and associated elastomers, we significantly reduced fatigue, erosion, and embrittlement, tackling the Achilles heel of pressure regulator valves, when we created our zero emission, hydraulically operated ES stemless actuated valves.

As a result, operators can:

  • see a 20-30% reduction in cost of ownership
  • double the mechanical life of the valve
  • lower their impact on the environment
  • stop wasting time and money on leaks and waste


Reducing emissions must be a top priority and there is a need to replace valves

By investing in hydrogen-ready valves for new grid infrastructure, the design changes and cost reductions of emissions-free valves will reap huge long-term benefits, both in terms of balancing the books and for the environment.

So, are your distribution systems ready? We can help. Contact valve experts and flow technology specialists.