ExxonMobil [XOM:US] and Japan’s JFE Steel [5411:JP] have announced collaboration to develop high-pressure hydrogen pipeline technology, as reported by Nikkei Asia on June 9. The partnership aims to design pipelines that can withstand pressures of up to approximately 20 megapascals, enabling the long-distance transportation of large amounts of hydrogen. The challenge lies in ensuring the durability of steel pipes and welding under high-pressure hydrogen, as hydrogen can cause brittleness in materials. JFE Steel, with its expertise in corrosion-resistant steel pipes used in offshore oil fields and resource development projects, will contribute its experience to the project.
The development of high-pressure hydrogen pipelines is driven by the increasing demand for hydrogen transportation from production sites to remote power plants and factories. This need has been further emphasized by the recent proposal from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require gas-fired power plants to convert to hydrogen co-firing. Once the high-pressure hydrogen pipeline technology is commercialized, ExxonMobil plans to implement the technology in its hydrogen projects, including the construction of its clean hydrogen plant in Texas, which is expected to become the world’s largest of its kind. Notably, the partnership between JFE and ExxonMobil comes shortly after Japan announced its ambitious hydrogen investment plan, committing JPY15 trillion (USD107 billion) to the supply of hydrogen over the next 15 years. Japan aims to increase its hydrogen supply to 12 million tons by 2040, compared to the current level of 2 million tons.