The defining watch words for the twenty first century are fast becoming ‘energy conservation’. The end of the twentieth century saw us using up fuel resources as though they would never end. However, research into climate change also made us realise that burning large amounts of fossil fuels is not just a waste of a scarce natural resource but is actually one of the contributing causes of climate change. At the same time fuel prices began to rise rapidly as demand for emerging economies such as China and India began to overtake the oil producing countries’ ability to supply.
So, the search began for alternative fuel resources to meet our energy needs.
Two such possible fuels are hydrogen and methanol. When hydrogen is burnt the results of combustion are water and no emissions. Methanol does produce some CO2 emissions but these are a lot let than petroleum. It also has a much higher energy value giving more power. However, engines running on this fuel have to use a richer mixture so the consumption rate is less.
The production of hydrogen and methanol also poses problems for the pipeline designer and operator. Hydrogen atoms are the smallest atomic structure and as such are small enough to penetrate the crystalline structure of steel, even specialist stainless steels such as super duplex. This can lead to the steel becoming brittle and fracture when exerted to high pressure and temperatures. This has to be overcome by introducing a barrier layer in the pipeline.
Methanol is also very corrosive to pipes and pipe fittings so bulk handling of this liquid also requires the use of specialist materials and methods.
At Chemipetro we already manufacture pipes, pipe fittings and flanges in a range of specialist metals and alloys. In the future we shall also be able to develop new products with the ability to deal with these problems.