Hydrogen has been prioritised as a key player in the UK’s journey away from reliance upon fossil fuels and towards net zero. CO2 is a by-product when fossil fuels are used, when Hydrogen is burned, it only emits water. Further, hydrogen is abundantly available to us, unlike sources of fossil fuels, which are ever depleting.

However, it has been discovered that hydrogen is two times as powerful a greenhouse gas as previously believed. Hydrogen is a known indirect greenhouse gas, meaning that it reacts with other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to worsen their effects.

A study conducted in 2001 attributed hydrogen with the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 5.8, compared to Carbon Dioxide’s figure of 1. However, this recent study marks the GWP of hydrogen to be 11 ± 5, over double the previous figure.

Hydrogen is a group 1 element on the periodic table, consisting of a single valence electron, making it incredibly reactive. It is due to this nature that once released, it is now believed that hydrogen can be up to 200 times more potent than carbon dioxide at the time of its release. As an indirect greenhouse gas, hydrogen is so potent as it reacts with the greenhouse gas methane, extending its lifespan. Methane exists in the atmosphere for approximately an average of just over a decade since its emittance, far lower than carbon dioxide. However, this shorter lifespan is countered by the fact that methane absorbs much more energy than carbon dioxide, giving it a much higher GWP. With hydrogen directly increasing the lifespan of methane in the atmosphere, it is vital that all unnecessary emissions are prevented, in order to reduce the greenhouse impact.

The Atmospheric Implications of Increased Hydrogen Use report states that “leakage of hydrogen into the atmosphere during production, storage, distribution, and use will partially offset some of the benefits of a hydrogen-based economy. Minimisation of leaks needs to be a priority if hydrogen is adopted as a major energy source.” Any plans to increase the use of hydrogen as a source of energy, as we move towards a global net zero goal must, therefore, include a total infrastructure overhaul, in order to prevent leakage, especially in high pressure hydrogen process pipework.

Due to hydrogen being the smallest element on the periodic table, its ability to leak through the smallest of defects in fittings or pipework is exacerbated. In order to combat this, Orbital Fabrication’s team of highly qualified manual TIG welders can join sections of pipework together through orbital or manual welding techniques. When compared to other methods of joining pipework, this weld not only has a lower component cost, but also lower weight and higher tamperproof security when compared to other methods of joining, including compression fittings. Crucially, with a welded joint, there is only one potential leak path, greatly reducing the pipework’s susceptibility to hydrogen leakages, and thus overall protecting the use of hydrogen as an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels.


About Orbital Fabrications

Orbital Fabrications has over 30 years’ experience in orbital welding services and is an industry expert in stainless steel TIG welding and orbital tube welding. Our experienced team can weld tubing to fabricate components for the semiconductor, aerospace, pharmaceutical, chemical, and oil & gas industries. We are committed to continuous investment in specialist equipment that enables us to manufacture high quality modules and complete system builds using stainless steel and high nickel alloys.  Our engineering know-how and advanced manufacturing capabilities allow us to meet the ever-changing demands of the sectors we supply. Whether it’s a full turnkey project solution, or a one-off fabrication, Orbital can assist.


Our expert capabilities of performing on-site installations of high purity stainless steel pipework required for the semiconductor and chemical process industries makes Orbital Fabrications your number one choice.


Contact Orbital Fabrications today at sales@orbitalfab.co.uk