The Future of Gas Boilers – Hydrogen or Heat Pumps?

Due to the international crisis of global warming, the majority of western countries are now set on a course to become carbon neutral and at the Paris Accord, they agreed to achieve this by 2050. This is an impressive feat for countries still so reliant on fossil fuels for major industries like heating and transport.

Residential heating is one area that is currently in the spotlight, for instance, in countries like the UK, it is currently responsible for around one-third of carbon emissions. As a result and understandingly it is set to undergo major reform over the next 10 years.

What’s the problem with current heating?

Heating in the UK is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels, either directly or indirectly. For instance, the vast majority of homes are supplied with natural gas which is burned in fireplaces and gas combi boilers to provide homes with heat.


The major issue is that burning natural gas releases carbon into the atmosphere, which is a gas that doesn’t leave the atmosphere, resulting in heat being trapped in the atmosphere, leading to global warming.

Therefore, the UK government is looking at low carbon heating alternatives as a route to transforming the current situation, which includes the likes of heat pumps, hydrogen boilers and solar.

As Heatable states, residential boilers have already been under considerable scrutiny and the government has banned non-condensing boilers, driving up the efficiency of boilers to above 90%, as well as a total outlaw on all gas boilers in new homes from 2025.

Yet, it’s important to note that most industry commentators consider replacing gas boilers with solar and heat pumps completely unrealistic. Major concerns include their expensive and disruptive installation, as well as their reliability when compared to conventional boilers.

As a result, replacing the fuel is seen as a much more realistic approach with the fuel of choice being hydrogen. This can be fed into the current infrastructure and used with hydrogen-ready boilers, which are almost identical to current natural gas versions.

Hydrogen Boilers vs. Heat Pumps

There are many issues when it comes to the transition from high to low carbon heating technologies. So much so, that the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) estimated that it would take almost 1,000 years to make the switch if the current trajectories continued.

Even worse, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) highlighted that it would cost on average £26,000 for each home to install a low carbon heating alternative, rending the whole idea completely unviable.


The only sensible solution is the adoption of hydrogen fuel as an alternative to natural gas instead. This fuel is able to make use of the current gas networks infrastructure which is already connected to the vast majority of properties.

From an environmental standpoint, hydrogen is also seen as highly desirable.

Why? When hydrogen is burned it produces only vapour and absolutely no carbon dioxide making it ideal for a carbon-neutral future.

Disadvantages of Heat Pumps

As well as that, there are also other issues with heat pumps, of which there are three main types: air source, ground source and hybrid. All of which works by sucking in heat from the surrounding air, ground or water and are able to supply heat to water and central heating.

Hybrid heat pumps are different in that they utilise a boiler to provide supplemental heat if the weather becomes severely cold.

The good point of heat pumps is that they only use small amounts of electricity to operate and combined with the fact that they absorb heat from the environment, they are extremely efficient. In fact, they can achieve energy efficiency ratings exceeding 300%, compared to modern gas boilers that are around 94%.

However, it’s not all positive sadly and heat pumps are unable to provide the same, consistent heat output that gas boilers are able to. For this reason, they are usually installed with oversized radiators and/or underfloor heating and only in properties that are extremely well insulated.


Heating is without a doubt going to change and countries like the UK are going to transition away from gas boilers, but what will win – heat pumps or hydrogen?

It seems that hydrogen has the advantage from a feasibility standpoint, but there’s little doubt that heat pumps will be part of the mix too.

It’s becoming more common for gas boilers to be installed with a hybrid heat pump system.

The first homes fitted with hydrogen boilers and appliances are going to be installed in Fife, Scotland from next year, so progression is certainly accelerating.

All You Need to Know About the Benefits Of Natural Gas

All areas of our lives are literally run by energy. And with various options of energy consumption choices, it’s always good to know the benefits of each one of them so that you make a great consumer choice. Today, in this article, we are focusing on natural gas and are going to take you through some of its top benefits. So if that’s what you have been searching for, then you are at the correct place. Let’s get started!

1. Clean Burning Fuel

When compared to coal, oil, and diesel, natural gas is cleaner as it emits the least percentage of carbon dioxide and other related harmful chemicals. So when you use one, you don’t have to invest in emission lowering technologies as the efficiency is top notch. Also, since it’s odorless, it makes little contribution to air pollution and doesn’t cause any harm when inhaled by people and animals.

2. Versatile

There is a given sort of flexibility and convenience that comes with the use of natural gas. With it, you enjoy the ease of starting and turning off as it won’t take much of your time. Also, since it isn’t dependent on the wind or the sun, it can function pretty well when used with solar and wind powers. It’s a source you can depend on no matter the weather conditions outside.

So if this seems like something you would like to try out, then it’s advisable to carefully go through an apples to apples comparison of the various natural gas providers and settle for one according to your needs and financial capability.

3. Affordable

With the current hard economic times, people are always on the lookout for affordable but efficient options when it comes to products or services affecting their billings. So natural gas couldn’t have been easily accessible at a better time. In fact, it’s by far one of the cheapest energy options in the current market. This is because, even as you calculate the long-term costs of seemingly cheap options such as generators, you will realize that they aren’t as affordable as they might appear in the beginning. Take the fuel and maintenance costs, for example, you will end up spending much more than you can ever imagine.


But this isn’t the case with natural gas. According to recent findings, its cost is expected to remain constant or relatively unchanged at least even for the next decade. So you can be sure that it’s a long-term investment, worth every cent. You make one and forget about unnecessary expenses.

4. Reliable Delivery Infrastructure

This is probably one of the natural gas‘s primary benefits. This is because you can still receive your delivery of natural gas even during extreme weather conditions such as storms, through the pipes. A case that’s different from other energy sources. Also, the infrastructure is already established in most urban areas.

Final Thoughts

Natural gas is a clean fuel that can be used in various places while keeping the air fresh and clean. Together with this, there are various benefits associated with its use and this includes the affordability, reliable infrastructure, versatility, among others. The above list isn’t exhaustive.

Biomethane Utilization Pathways

Biogas can be used in raw (without removal of CO2) or in upgraded form. The main function of upgrading biogas is the removal of CO2 (to increase the energy content) and H2S (to reduce risk of corrosion). After upgrading, biogas becomes biomethane and possesses identical gas quality properties as  natural gas, and can thus be used as natural gas replacement. The main pathways for biomethane utilization are as follows:

  • Production of heat and/or steam
  • Electricity production / combined heat and power production (CHP)
  • Natural gas replacement (gas grid injection)
  • Compressed natural gas (CNG) & diesel replacement – (bio-CNG for transport fuel usage)
  • Liquid natural gas (LNG) replacement – (bio-LNG for transport fuel usage)

Prior to practically all utilization options, the biogas has to be dried (usually through application of a cooling/condensation step). Furthermore, elements such as hydrogen sulphide and other harmful trace elements must be removed (usually trough application of an activated carbon filter) to prevent adverse effects on downstream processing equipment (such as compressors, piping, boilers and CHP systems).


Although biogas is perfectly suitable to be utilized in boilers (as an environmental friendlier source for heat and steam production), this option is rather obsolete due to the abundance of alternative sources from solid waste origin.

Most Palm Oil Mills are already self-reliant with respect to heat and steam production due to the combustion of their solid waste streams (such as EFB and PKS). Consequently, conversion to electricity (by means of a CHP unit) or utilization as natural gas, CNG or LNG replacement, would be a more sensible solution.

The biogas masterplan as drafted by the Asia Pacific Biogas Alliance foresees a distribution in which 30% of the biomethane is used for power generation, 40% for grid injection and 30% as compressed/liquefied fuel for transportation purpose (Asian Pacific Biogas Alliance, 2015).

For each project, the most optimal option has to be evaluated on a case to case basis. Main decision-making factors will be local energy prices and requirements, available infrastructure (for gas and electricity), incentives and funding.

For the locations where local demand is exceeded, and no electricity or gas infrastructure is available within a reasonable distance (<5-10 km, due to investment cost and power loss), production of CNG could offer a good solution.

Moreover, during the utilization of biogas within a CHP unit only 40-50% of the energetic content of the gas is converted into electricity. The rest of the energy is transformed into heat. For those locations where an abundance of heat is available, such as Palm Oil Mills, this effectively means that 50-60% of the energetic content of the biogas is not utilized. Converting the biogas into biomethane (of gas grid or CNG quality) through upgrading, would facilitate the transportation and commercialisation of over 95%  of the energetic content of the biogas.

Within the CNG utilization route, the raw biogas will be upgraded to a methane content of >96%, compressed to 250 bar and stored in racks with gas bottles. The buffered gas (bottles) will be suitable for transportation by truck or ship. For transportation over large distances (>200km), it will be advised to further reduce the gas volume by converting the gas to LNG (trough liquefaction).

Overall the effects and benefits from anaerobic digestion of POME and utilization of biomethane can be summarized as follows:

  • Reduction of emissions i.e. GHG methane and CO2
  • Reduced land use for POME treatment
  • Enhanced self-sufficiency trough availability of on-site diesel replacement (CNG)
  • Expansion of economic activities/generation of additional revenues
    • Sales of surplus electricity (local or to the grid)
    • Sales of biomethane (injection into the natural gas grid)
    • Replacement of on-site diesel usage by CNG
    • Sales of bottled CNG
  • Reducing global and local environmental impact (through fuel replacement)
  • Reducing dependence on fossil fuel, and enhances fuel diversity and security of energy supply
  • Enhancement of local infrastructure and employment
    • Through electrical and gas supply
    • Through Fuel (CNG) supply

Co-Authors: H. Dekker and E.H.M. Dirkse (DMT Environmental Technology)

Note: This is the second article in the special series on ‘Sustainable Utilization of POME-based Biomethane’ by Langerak et al of DMT Environmental Technology (Holland). The first article can be viewed at this link

4 Amazing Benefits of Using Natural Gas for Your Home

Homeowners have a variety of energy sources to choose from to power their homes. Each kind offers its own set of benefits and disadvantages. When you are wanting to be more eco-friendly with your energy consumption, there are many benefits of considering natural gas as your go-to energy source.

Uses Of Natural Gas

Natural gas is non-toxic, colorless, odorless and the lowest-carbon hydrocarbon. It can be used for heating and cooking purposes in both residential and commercial settings. It can also be used to fuel power stations to create electricity for use in businesses and homes.

Natural gas can also be found in many industrial processes to create goods and materials from clothing to glass. Plastics and paints are some important products that have natural gas as a crucial ingredient. The uses of natural gas are many and diverse.

Benefits of Natural Gas

Below are some of the top benefits of natural gas to understand.

1. Affordability

In most areas, natural gas is much more affordable than electricity for heating your house and your water. For the same heating tasks, natural gas can cost almost half as much as oil or coal when used as the energy source. Natural gas is a deregulated utility. This means that consumers have fewer restrictions and are able to have control over how much they pay for the gas. Affordable natural gas prices mean a lot of savings throughout the year for homeowners.

2. Eco-Friendly

Natural gas is not as eco-friendly as renewable energy sources like wind and solar. However, it is the cleanest form of fossil fuel available. When compared to coal, natural gas releases almost a third less carbon dioxide and half as less than oil when it is burned. Compared to other fuels, it also lets off little to no sulfur.

3. Dependability

Using natural gas as your energy source is more reliable and dependable for your energy needs. When a big storm hits your area and the power goes out, you will not be able to depend on any appliance that runs off of electricity. For some homeowners, this means no lights, air conditioning, heating or hot water until the power is restored. When you run your appliances using natural gas, you can still operate them when your power is out.

When you have water heaters and other important home appliances operating using natural gas, the gas is often fed to your home in underground pipelines. This allows your energy source to be safe and well-protected from extreme weather conditions such as heavy storms. If you lose electricity, you will not lose all of your comforts while waiting for the power company to fix the issues.

4. Domestic Energy Source

Much emphasis is put on finding energy sources locally instead of having to depend on foreign oils. In addition to being more abundant and economical, relying more on local energy sources is great for the economy and creates more jobs and revenue.

Learn More About Using Natural Gas In Your Area

If you are looking to turn your home into an eco-friendly environment, turning to natural gas can be a great place to start. Natural gas providers offer plans and pricing options that can be suitable for all homeowners and budgets. Allowing most or all of your appliances to receive energy derived from natural gas can bring you many rewards as a homeowner and someone who cares about their impact on the environment.

This alternative energy source over oil and coal will be good for the global community for generations to come. The use of natural gas is on the rise and will become more competitive as consumers and energy providers look to reduce the impact on air pollution and the environment.

An Introduction to Biomethane

Biogas that has been upgraded by removing hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide and moisture is known as biomethane. Biomethane is less corrosive than biogas, apart from being more valuable as a vehicle fuel. The typical composition of raw biogas does not meet the minimum CNG fuel specifications. In particular, the COand sulfur content in raw biogas is too high for it to be used as vehicle fuel without additional processing.


Liquified Biomethane

Biomethane can be liquefied, creating a product known as liquefied biomethane (LBM). Biomethane is stored for future use, usually either as liquefied biomethane or compressed biomethane (CBM) or  since its production typically exceeds immediate on-site demand.

Two of the main advantages of LBM are that it can be transported relatively easily and it can be dispensed to either LNG vehicles or CNG vehicles. Liquid biomethane is transported in the same manner as LNG, that is, via insulated tanker trucks designed for transportation of cryogenic liquids.

Compressed Biomethane

Biomethane can be stored as CBM to save space. The gas is stored in steel cylinders such as those typically used for storage of other commercial gases. Storage facilities must be adequately fitted with safety devices such as rupture disks and pressure relief valves.

The cost of compressing gas to high pressures between 2,000 and 5,000 psi is much greater than the cost of compressing gas for medium-pressure storage. Because of these high costs, the biogas is typically upgraded to biomethane prior to compression.

Applications of Biomethane

The utilization of biomethane as a source of energy is a crucial step toward a sustainable energy supply. Biomethane is more flexible in its application than other renewable sources of energy. Its ability to be injected directly into the existing natural gas grid allows for energy-efficient and cost-effective transport. This allows gas grid operators to enable consumers to make an easy transition to a renewable source of gas. The diverse, flexible spectrum of applications in the areas of electricity generation, heat provision, and mobility creates a broad base of potential customers.

Biomethane can be used to generate electricity and heating from within smaller decentralized, or large centrally-located combined heat and power plants. It can be used by heating systems with a highly efficient fuel value, and employed as a regenerative power source in gas-powered vehicles.

Biomethane to Grid

Biogas can be upgraded to biomethane and injected into the natural gas grid to substitute natural gas or can be compressed and fuelled via a pumping station at the place of production. Biomethane can be injected and distributed through the natural gas grid, after it has been compressed to the pipeline pressure. In many EU countries, the access to the gas grid is guaranteed for all biogas suppliers.

One important advantage of using gas grid for biomethane distribution is that the grid connects the production site of biomethane, which is usually in rural areas, with more densely populated areas. This enables the gas to reach new customers. Injected biomethane can be used at any ratio with natural gas as vehicle fuel.

Biomethane is more flexible in its application than other renewable sources of energy.

The main barriers for biomethane injection are the high costs of upgrading and grid connection. Grid injection is also limited by location of suitable biomethane production and upgrading sites, which have to be close to the natural gas grid.

Several European nations have introduced standards (certification systems) for injecting biogas into the natural gas grid. The standards, prescribing the limits for components like sulphur, oxygen, particles and water dew point, have the aim of avoiding contamination of the gas grid or the end users. In Europe, biogas feed plants are in operation in Sweden, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France.

Biomethane – The Green Gas

Biomethane, also known as the green gas, is a well-known and well-proven source of clean energy, and is witnessing increasing demand worldwide, especially in European countries, as it is one of the most cost-effective and eco-friendly replacement for natural gas and diesel.

Advantages of Biomethane

The key advantage of biomethane is that it is less corrosive than biogas which makes it more flexible in its application than raw biogas. It can be injected directly into the existing natural gas grid leading to energy-efficient and cost-effective transport, besides allowing natural gas grid operators to persuade consumers to make a smooth transition to a renewable source of natural gas.

Biogas can be upgraded to biomethane and injected into the natural gas grid to substitute natural gas or can be compressed and fuelled via a pumping station at the place of production. Biomethane can be injected and distributed through the natural gas grid, after it has been compressed to the pipeline pressure.

The injected biomethane can be used at any ratio with natural gas as vehicle fuel. In many EU countries, the access to the gas grid is guaranteed for all biogas suppliers.

A major advantage of using natural gas grid for biomethane distribution is that the grid connects the production site of biomethane, which is usually in rural areas, with more densely populated areas. This enables biogas to reach new customers.

Storage of Biomethane

Biomethane can be converted either into liquefied biomethane (LBM) or compressed biomethane (CBM) in order to facilitate its long-term storage and transportation. LBM can be transported relatively easily and can be dispensed through LNG vehicles or CNG vehicles. Liquid biomethane is transported in the same manner as LNG, that is, via insulated tanker trucks designed for transportation of cryogenic liquids.

Biomethane can be stored as CBM to save space. The gas is stored in steel cylinders such as those typically used for storage of other commercial gases.

Applications of Biomethane

Biomethane can be used to generate electricity and heating from within smaller decentralized, or large centrally-located combined heat and power plants. It can be used by heating systems with a highly efficient fuel value, and employed as a regenerative power source in gas-powered vehicles.

Biomethane, as a transportation fuel, is most suitable for vehicles having engines that are based on natural gas (CNG or LNG). Once biogas is cleaned and upgraded to biomethane, it is virtually the same as natural gas.

Because biomethane has a lower energy density than NG, due to the high CO2 content, in some circumstances, changes to natural gas-based vehicle’s fuel injection system are required to use the biomethane effectively.

5 Ways The Oil Industry Helps To Keep The Environment Clean

When you think of oil companies, it’s likely you don’t also think of “environmentally-friendly”. We see news about spilled oil, burning tankers, and other issues, and assume that all oil companies are disregarding the health of our planet. This simply isn’t the case, and you’ll be happy to know that the oil industry is actually working to keep the environment clean.

Here are five ways the industry is helping out with Mother Earth.

1. Information

The first step to improving anything is realizing there’s a problem to begin with, then gathering necessary information on the problem. Every time a spill, accident, or fire occurs, the oil industry is gathering precious data to use to combat future problems.

When a spill occurs, it can be devastating for the local ecosystems. Flora and fauna alike are affected by the viscous liquid, often restricting their ability to move, breathe, or perform daily functions. The Deepwater Horizon Rig that caused a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was much more than just an industrial and environmental disaster; it was a learning experience for the oil industry.

Scientists and researchers from all over the world descended on the Gulf after the spill, and though we’re still learning from it a decade later, the information that was collected has been incredibly beneficial to the industry and has helped pave the way for new containment processes.

2. Better Pipe Maintenance

Maintaining pipelines is a crucial component of keeping the environment clean. Pipes can rupture, leaking oil or natural gas into the environment or even causing explosions and fires under the right conditions. The oil and natural gas industries have focused heavily on creating better maintenance processes and safety standards for pipelines across the country in recent years.

Not only do faulty pipelines put the environment at risk, but they also put thousands of workers at risk as well. Keeping workers and the environment safe not only shows care for the Earth and the industry’s employees but also helps potentially save millions in cleanup dollars.

3. Decreasing Freshwater Usage

Certain processes, such as fracking or separating oil from sands, use millions of gallons of fresh water. This is incredibly damaging to the environment not only because there’s already a shortage of freshwater on a global scale, but also because the wastewater that’s produced is stored in man-made containment units that aren’t always good at containing it.

Fracking wastewater is laced with chemicals that are both harmful to the environment directly and can contaminate other freshwater sources. The oil industry is working hard to minimize the use of freshwater in fracking and separation processes, as well as reducing the amount of wastewater and improving containment.

There’s also some promise in the area of recycling the water itself for use in future processes. In the US, produced water from fracking is being used in certain applications and even some water treatment plants are focusing on better treatment processes to make the water drinkable.

4. Investing In Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is on the horizon, and with the continued focus on wind, solar, hydro, and even tidal energy, the oil industry is starting to take notice. These energy sources offer a promising future, but as of yet, they’re not able to meet the world’s energy demands in an affordable way.

Right now, gasoline, natural gas, and crude oil are much cheaper and more profitable to source, acquire, and sell to the public. Pipelines can transport natural gas thousands of miles away, serving isolated regions and maintaining a constant flow of raw resources throughout the country.

Not to mention, the Canadian economy is highly invested in oil and natural gas, being the 5th and 6th largest producer of each respectively. However, the oil industry isn’t ignoring renewables. With continued investments, we could see a partial or full transition to renewable energy within our lifetime.

5. Using Technology For Better Planning

As technology improves, so too do the processes by which pipelines are planned and built. With new software, engineers can better plan a pipe’s path through an ecosystem in order to minimize the environmental impact. Better diagnostic software can identify issues long before they become spills or ruptures, and even AI tech is playing a role in the oil industry.

Moving Forward

Believe it or not, the oil industry is committed to a safer and more sustainable world. By using technology and data, the industry is improving its processes and ensuring that renewable energy remains an option for the future of energy production.