‘We can effectively create an international market by reliably measuring hydrogen’

  • Contenttype:
    • Interview
  • Themes:
    • Energy
    • Innovation
    • Maritime
    • Technology

Rotterdam is the ultimate place to realise innovative CO2-neutral solutions. But it goes without saying this doesn’t just simply happen. Companies need financial support in order to be able to jointly form Europe’s Hydrogen Hub. That’s why the City of Rotterdam has allocated part of its Sustainability Transition Budget to hydrogen projects. Meet applicant Dick van Driel, Euroloop’s CEO and part of the Hydro Generation. His company is looking into the feasibility of building a calibration centre for hydrogen flow meters.

Portret of Dick van Driel, CEO of Euroloop Calibrations at the site of Euroloop.
© Eric Fecken

How can you be confident that you are filling up with the exact number of litres indicated at the petrol pump? Or the meters in your meter cupboard, which indicate the level of water and gas consumption in your home? That’s the world of metrology – reliable measurements. Euroloop’s site in Rotterdam-Pernis is home to an installation which can very accurately measure liquid and gas meters and can compare them with a reference meter on the largest possible scale. This process is called calibration.

Nord Stream 2 pipelines

CEO Van Driel explains: “There are gigantic pipelines which connect both countries and continents. Just think of the Nord Stream 2 pipelines, for example, which were featured in the news because of a number of explosions. Nord Stream 2’s measuring instruments, referred to as flow meters, are calibrated by us and are, therefore, very precisely adjusted. This clearly shows how much gas is being used and will need to be paid for by the recipient.”

This calibration takes place in Euroloop’s research and test centre. Van Driel is very proud of their ingenious in-house technology. “We can very accurately simulate the conditions in such a pipe. This could be pressures of up to 60 bar and volume flows of up to 30,000 cubic meters per hour. The calibration process is completed in a closed system, with the gas flowing through a reference meter. The test results are indicated in an internationally recognised calibration certificate. And should any anomalies occur? Then we can very accurately adjust the flow meter again, if so required,” the CEO explains.

The world leader in the oil and gas calibration market now wants to take an important next step: the calibration of hydrogen flow meters. The technology mastered by the company, under highly conditioned, super stable conditions, can be used on an almost like-for-like basis for hydrogen. “But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be ready tomorrow,” Van Driel smiles. “A great deal more is still needed to be done. But we’re now in a position to take the initial steps thanks to the Sustainability Transition Budget subsidy.”

Study into a hydrogen calibration centre

The financial support is intended for market consultations, as well as an extensive design and engineering study into the hydrogen calibration centre. “We use the market consultations to map out exactly what the customer expects from us, as well as the economic opportunities. It goes without saying that, as a private company, we want to be absolutely sure we’re going to reap the benefits of our investment.”

The company also still has a great deal to figure out from a technical perspective. “How can we make sure hydrogen, an incredibly small molecule, can’t escape from our system? For example, should we be adding an odorant for safety, as is done with gas?
Which materials should we use for the seal? Hydrogen behaves differently to natural gas, how will that affect the installation’s process design? Which standards do we have to meet? That knowledge is essential for the next step: building the installation,” the CEO tell us.

‘We want to be the first’

However, we’re going to need much more capital to actually build a calibration installation. The company needs around 7 to 10 million euros. Even though there’s hardly a market for hydrogen. Van Driel: “And yet our customers are still asking about it and we have certainly seen it ourselves too: hydrogen is going to play a key role in the future. Of course, we can all expect someone else to initiate things, but something needs to happen. It goes without saying there’s a strategic side to all of this, too. We simply want to be the first company to realise this, as that’s always going to pay off.”

But being a pioneer is no mean feat. “A lot of money is needed, and quickly too. There’s a huge amount of potential funding, but they are certainly going to thoroughly investigate every possible detail when applications are submitted,” according to the CEO. The decision-making process is incredibly slow, he says. “The government has a responsibility there, and they can make all the difference. The subsidy which Rotterdam may be granting us is definitely going to be a great start.” Euroloop will be using this to carry out the feasibility study, making sure all technical and financial aspects are clearly mapped out.

Calibration is essential for Europe’s Hydrogen Hub

The hydrogen calibration and certification are of vital importance to Rotterdam, as this will guarantee an efficiently functioning Europe’s Hydrogen Hub. This is the only way to create a global market. “It goes without saying that the actual hydrogen production and the right infrastructure are initially essential. But we need to be able to make money from it. Otherwise there will simply be no market. We play an essential role in the financial side of things,” Van Driel explains. “You can’t start trading until you can certify and measure the exact usage levels.”

The CEO also believes that the development of the hydrogen calibration centre will contribute to the accumulation of indispensable knowledge and business activity in the future. “We’re collaborating with important parties, such as GasUnie’s Hynetwork and the National Metrological Institute (VSL). This allows us to work together to ensure certified hydrogen flow meters, derived from national standards, are introduced to the market.”

He has noticed a great deal of enthusiasm within his company, but also some concerns too. “They’re afraid we’re missing the boat. The whole process needs to be quicker, and we need to be quicker if we want to be first,” Van Driel explains. There most certainly won’t be a lack of interest. Several Expressions of Interest have already been signed between Euroloop and the Rotterdam manufacturing industry.

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The Hydro Generation

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Would you like to get in touch with the Hydro Generation?

Curious about Rotterdam’s hydrogen approach? Would you like to talk to the Hydro Generation?

Then please get in touch with Lieuwe Brouwer: lm.brouwer@rotterdam.nl

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