Research & development

Aims and approach

Fluxys Belgium undertakes applied research either by itself or in conjunction with academic institutions. It also collaborates with Gas.be (formerly the Royal Association of Belgian Gas Companies) and other European gas companies in various national and international organisations including:

  • Pipeline Operators Forum (POF); 
  • European Gas Research Group (GERG); 
  • European Committee for Standardisation (CEN); 
  • European Pipeline Research Group (EPRG); 
  • International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO); 
  • EASEE-gas (European Association for the Streamlining of Energy Exchange – gas); 
  • Marcogaz, the Technical Association of the European Natural Gas Industry.

Design and operation of pipelines and facilities

 

Improving the design of pressure-reducing stations

In 2016, Fluxys Belgium further optimised the design and dimensioning principles of its pressure-reducing stations, without compromising performance or safety. One of the improvements was to further limit greenhouse gas emissions by opting for the most appropriate pressure and flow control technologies. Other adjustments were aimed at enhancing the efficiency of odorisation and gas heating facilities. The new principles will be applied to the construction of new facilities and the adaptation of existing stations.

Loenhout storage facility: dynamic models of the underground environment

 

Hydrodynamic model

At the Loenhout storage site, natural gas is stored in a layer of porous, water-containing reservoir rock more than a kilometre underground. Fluxys Belgium is working with Ghent University to develop a hydrodynamic model of this layer with a view to charting, among other things, how water pressure is changing over time in certain locations in connection with the storage reservoir. The model will be completed in 2017.


Dynamic geological model

In collaboration with the Geology Department at KU Leuven, a 3D geological model of the karstified limestone in the ground beneath Loenhout has been transformed into a dynamic model providing information as to the future development of the storage facility. This gives us a clear picture of natural gas movements within the reservoir, how the gas interacts with the water, and gas pressure changes within the facility. In 2016, Fluxys and a consultancy firm further developed the existing model to demonstrate the impact of nearby geothermal projects on the gas storage facility.

New natural gas applications 

Power-to-gas

Power-to-gas is a technology for converting electricity into hydrogen or synthetic natural gas. By converting electricity into a different form of energy, power-to-gas is particularly valuable as a solution to the problem of storing electricity: for example, when wind turbines are running at full capacity while electricity demand is low, the surplus energy generated can be stored in the gas infrastructure in the form of hydrogen or synthetic natural gas.

In 2013, Fluxys Belgium joined forces with 10 other European companies (including natural gas and electricity system operators) in the European Power to Gas Platform to monitor the technology and exchange best practices.


Biomethane quality requirements

Biomethane is the gas that is left when the CO2 is removed from biogas. Biogas is gas produced from green waste and, like natural gas, its main component is methane. Fluxys Belgium is involved in various working groups examining the quality requirements biomethane must meet before it can be injected into a gas network and what the impact might be. It will use the results of this research as a point of reference in the biomethane injection projects that are currently under development in Belgium.


Injection of biomethane and hydrogen into gas networks

Blending biomethane or hydrogen with natural gas in the networks is one way of reducing the carbon footprint of natural gas and supplying greener gas for heating, electricity generation, transport and industrial processes.

As regards the injection of hydrogen into the natural gas system, Fluxys Belgium has finalised the HIPS (Hydrogen In Pipeline Systems) study in the European Gas Research Group (GERG). The study's results show that it is theoretically possible to blend large quantities of hydrogen with natural gas, but that for some applications the higher sensitivity to hydrogen must be kept in mind..


Combined heat and power

As a member of the Cogen Vlaanderen working group, Fluxys carries out research into different natural gas cogeneration systems that both generate electricity and heat water. Cogeneration reduces greenhouse gas emissions and lowers energy bills.

LNG

 

International measurement standard for small to medium-sized LNG flow rates

LNG is enjoying increasing success as an alternative fuel for trucks and ships. For such small-scale applications, LNG needs to be measured as accurately as other fuels. In light of this, Fluxys Belgium and various metrology institutes and industrial partners have come together in a project group to develop an international standard for measuring small to medium-sized LNG flow rates. A new LNG measurement and calibration facility is being built at the Maasvlakte in Rotterdam with a view to developing the international standard.


LNG for distribution

Fluxys Belgium joined forces with a distribution system operator in 2016 to study the possibility of creating an alternative gas supply system with an LNG facility in a city with no natural gas pipelines. The study is being continued in 2017.

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