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Int. J, Hydrogen Energy, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 125--130, 1985. 0360--3199/85 $3.00 + 0.

Printed in Great Britain. Pergamon Press Lid
1985 International Association for Hydrogen Energy


D. Z. CHEN and H. J. LIu
Department of Energy Sources and Power Engineering, Xian Jiaotong University, Xian, China

(Received 6 August 1984)

Abstract--This paper deals with the design method and construction considerations of liquid hydrogen transfer
lines. The design and calculations are based on a single phase flow regime of LH2 with a certain degree of
supercooling. A sample numerical calculation for a 200-m long transfer line of LH2 service is presented.

1. I N T R O D U C T I O N tains liquid and gas phase, the velocity of sound will

With the development of science and technology in the reduce quickly. In this case the critical or supercritical
fields of cryogenic applications, air and road transpor- flow regime may be easily reached which may cause
tation systems, as well as energy conversion systems, large increase in flow resistances and decrease the trans-
the use of LH2 has been forecasted to increase steadily. fer quantity of LH2. At the same time it may lead to
Hydrogen can be stored and transported as a gas, strong vibration of a transfer line [1]. In order to main-
liquid or hydride. It may be used either in gaseous or tain a single phase flow, the LH2 must have a certain
in liquid form, but in most cases the LH: is preferred, degree of supercooling. (3) The heat leakage of the
for it has a larger higher heating value per unit mass transfer line should be as small as possible. Thus the
of fuel and an ease of handling. However, LH~ is a transfer pipe should have excellent insulation from the
cryogenic fuel and vaporizes quickly, because of its low environment, such as using a high vacuum jacket or
boiling point and small heat of vaporization. Once it multilayer insulation. (4) Most of normal hydrogen
is mixed with air it may burn or explode rapidly. Hence, should be converted into para-hydrogen before the LH2
it is necessary to have sophisticated thermally insulated can be transfered in the pipe. Usually we use two or
storage and pipeline systems for its transport. For more stages of catalytic conversion to transform normal
expanded use of LH~, storage, effective transportation hydrogen to para-hydrogen. As for the design condi-
and safety in a pipeline system are important problems tions of a LH2 transfer system, the following data are
to be studied. From the transportation point of view, often given, namely: LH2 flow rate, transfer distance,
it is essential to keep a certain distance between the inlet pressure, and degree of supercooling, the envi-
LH: production plant (or storage vessel) and the place ronmental conditions, the volume of container or LH:
of use (or the charging place of LH2), thus the design tank, etc. In general, the LH: flow rate depends on the
of a transfer line of a few hundred meters long is a demand of the user and the production capacity of the
technical problem often encountered in practice. This LH:-producing plant. The transfer distance is deter-
paper deals with the design methods and construction mined by the specification of safety requirement and
considerations of L H : transfer line. A sample numerical the reasonable arrangement of installation. The inlet
calculation of a 200-m long transfer pipe for LH2 service pressure, temperature and supercooling degree of LH2
is also introduced here. can be determined according to the type and charac-
teristic of the insulation, the operating conditions and
2. D E S I G N R E Q U I R E M E N T S the method of supercooling. Of course, there exists a
problem of optimization. Usually, the environmental
In the design of a LH2 transfer pipe, the following conditions and the volume of LH: storage tanks may
requirements should be considered: (1) the length of also be regarded as known parameters.
the pipe should be kept as short as possible. The length
of a transfer line must first meet the requirement of the
3. T H E C O N S T R U C T I V E D E S I G N OF A LH2
user's condition as well as the minimum safety distance;
it is not only related to the heat loss and energy con- T R A N S F E R LINE
sumption of the transfer process, but it also affects the In the design of a transfer pipe, the main dimensions
flow patterns in the pipe and the complication of the of the pipe may be determined first, then the detailed
transmission technology. (2) The transfer of LH2 in a construction design must be given to the whole pipeline
pipe should be maintained as single phase flow. The system according to the design requirements and design
sound velocity of LH: in a single phase flow is fairly conditions mentioned above.
large, a = 1100 m s -1, and in such a pipe it is difficult Usually, a LH: transfer pipe is a horizontal circular
to reach a supersonic flow regime; but if the flow con- pipe with uniform cross-section. In general, we use the
126 D. Z. CHEN AND H. J. LIU
I 5 8 2

Fig. 1. A structural scheme of a LH2 transfer line with high vacuum jacket insulation (1, 2--joints.
3---flange, 4---vacuum pump connection, 5---bellow, 6--outer tube, 7--inner tube, 8---adsorbent basket.

small diameter with low flow velocity to transfer LH~ design of spacers, joints and line penetrations for valves
from production plant to a storage vessel or tank, and instrumentations as described by F. J. Edeskuty
because in this case, high efficiency can be obtained. [6]. For a LH2 transfer line, particularly used for long
From the storage vessel or tank to the place of user, distance and long-term transferring service, it is com-
LH2 liquid hydrogen can be transferred by a liquid mon to use a high vacuum jacket or multilayer vacuum
pump or a pressurized gas with a fast injection velocity. insulation. The require vacuum between the inner and
The velocity of cryogenic liquids can be chosen for a outer tubes is about P = 10 -6 torr. The ratio of outer
wide range of data. For LH2 with low transfer rates, diameter Do to inner diameter Di may be chosen as
the velocity of WL = 2 m s -1 may be selected [2, 3]. In Do/Di = 1-2.5. Here, the fitting and installation of bel-
the case of fast pressurized injection, the LH2 velocity lows, spacers and adsorbent baskets should be con-
in a pipe may be taken higher [4], since the viscosity sidered. A structural scheme of a LH2 transfer line is
of LH2 is very small. According to the inlet pressure shown in Fig. 1. The line consists of two concentration
and temperature in a transfer pipe, the LH2 density tubes with high-vacuum jacket insulation between them.
)'L (N/m 3) can be found from the thermodynamic The structural material commonly used is CrlsNigTi,
properties tables of LH~ [5] or from LH2 T-S diagrams. while the material widely used for spacers and supports
Then, on the basis of volumetric flow rate VL (m 3 h -~), is Teflon, but the fiber reinforced plastic and polymide
or mass flow rate GL (kg h-~), the inner diameter d~ can can also be used.
be calculated: During the structural design, the thermal contact
between the outer jacket and the inner pipe wall must
( 4Vi IV2 { 4Gt. "~t/2 be minimized to reduce heat conduction to the mini-
d, = I ~ / = \3600~rWLyL/ (m). (1) mum. Where such contacts are unavoidable, the path
length for heat leakage is maximized and materials with
The outer diameter of a transfer line may be deter- the lowest thermal conductivity are used. Heat transfer
mined in accordance with the requirements of heat by radiation, convection and gas conduction between
insulation and construction of connections. Consider- the inner and outer tubes can be made negligible by
ation must be given to the tolerable amount of heat selecting pipe wall material with low emissivity and by
leakage which in turn is dependent upon the state of attaining a sufficiently high vacuum in the annular space.
LH2 entering the pipe and the residence time of the In order to maximize the effect of insulation, a low
fluid in the line. The tolerable heat leakage determines temperature adsorption basket is used. The latter filled
the type of insulation to be used and affects the detailed with sufficient activated carbon is installed in the annular
vacuum space to adsorb the residual gas. A vacuum
piping connection is provided on the outer pipe for the
evacuation of residual gas. The pumping and close-off
i 2 3
of the vacuum should be done at a higher temperature.

Fig. 2. Flange construction with cold and warm seals (1---cold

seal, 2---glass fiber reinforced plastic support, 3--thin wall
tube, 4---inner tube, 5---warm flange, 6---warm seal, 7---cold
flange, 8---outer tube).
Fig. 3. The thin wall insert type of connection (1--flange,
2,3----connections, 4---inner pipe, 5---outer pipe, 6-----cushion
ring, 7--support).

m .

/ I

/ / /
/ /
/ / ,, 6_
Fig. 4. Construction of the spacer.

By means of cryogenic pumping and low temperature a bending tube may be selected according to the con-
adsorption, the desired vacuum in the annular space crete condition of the arrangement.
has been attained for the long-run requirement.
The whole transfer line is divided into several sections
4. H E A T T R A N S F E R A N D H Y D R A U L I C
for the ease of inspection and vacuum pumping. E a c h
section is connected by flanges with warm and cold seal
to the other section as shown in Fig. 2.
Sometime the construction of thin wall insert type of The heat radiation between the two concentrating
connection is also used (Fig. 3). A certain amount of tubes of a transfer pipe may be calculated according to
spacers, as shown in Fig. 4 are installed in the annular the Stefan-Boltzmann equation:
space to keep the alignment of two concentrating tubes
and prevent the pipe line from deformation causing the
short passing of heat leakage. qa = ~ + -~z - 1 a . F ( T ~ - T~) (W/m), (2)
Between the transfer line and LH2 carrying tank or
storage vessel, a flexible insulating hose connection is
required, because there exists a direction and location where o = 5.77 x 10 -8 Wm -1 K-l; E1 and E2 correspond
difference in the arrangement. This type of connection to the emissivities of low temperature and high tem-
is schematically shown in the Fig. 5. The whole con- perature surfaces. F1 and F2 denote the inner and outer
nection consists of two concentric wave tubes (bellow). surface area per unit length of tube (m2/m); F is heat
The annular space between these tubes is evacuated transfer area per unit length of tube (m2/m), calculated
with high vacuum (P = 1 0 - 6 torr). A dense wave tube from low-temperature surface; T~ and T2 correspond to
with small amplitude is selected as inner tube. Spacers inner wall temperature and outer wall temperature,
are provided between the two wave tubes to avoid the respectively.
short cut of heat leakage. The hose is wrapped with At high vacuum condition (P = 1 0 - 6 torr), the space
weaved screen made of stainless steel. For a LH2 trans- of a vacuum jacket b is fairly small as compared with
fer line, the bending tube with large radius of curvature the molecular mean free path S, that is b -> S, thus the
(R >/10 D) is preferred, but the radius of curvature of heat transfer of residual gas in the annular space is

I 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
'" " ,/ "" / " .... I I " \ \
:J..." / / i \

""i ~ ~ I0 II // I~ /i" I~.__./' 14 ' ~ 16 ,

Fig. 5. Construction o f a flexible insulated hose connection ( i - - r i n g for fitting o f position. 2 - - v a l v e
head, .'~-welding ring, 4---outer tube, 5--metal screen. 6---support, 7--joints, 8--welding ring, 9--fix
ring. lO----flange, 11--outer bellow, 12--inner bellow, 13---inner tube. 14---adsorbent. 15--~uter jacket
tube. 16---flange, 17----connection).
128 D. Z. CHEN AND H. J. LIU
7" Considering the heat loss in flange connection and
heat loss in the normal and to para-hydrogen conver-
sion, etc., the calculated value of heat flux q' may
increase to about 10-30% in the engineering design.
thus a conservative value for the overall heat flux of a
transfer pipe may be obtained:

Oe q = (1.1 - 1.3)q' (W/m).

p ~ 02 ~ Pe The pressure drop due to friction in the transfer pipe

API = f . YL W-----~[. L~ x 10~(kg/cm-2), (6)
2g. De
/ o,
,t/ ~ where D, is the equivalent diameter of the pipe, m,
which may be taken from inner diameter; yL is the
o $ specific weight of LH2, kg m - 3 ; f is friction coefficient
which depends on the Reynolds number, Re. In a tur-
Fig. 6. A LH2 transfer process in the T-S diagram. bulent flow regime, f may be written as
f 0.2625
proportional to the gas pressure, but does not depend
= R---~. (7)

on the vacuum jacket space. In such a case, the heat

The local pressure drop of the pipe may be expressed
transfer of gas can be estimated from the following
3K+l P 2Lx 10', (kgfcm-2),
Ap{ = ~ I: I'LW-....~ (8)
q2 = 2.425 x 10 ~ x 7, 2g

x ao. F(T2 - T~) (W/m). (3) where ~ is local friction coefficient. The total pressure
drop of the whole line is then
Where a0 called the accommodation coefficient which
can be obtained from the literature; T is the vacuum Ap = A p l + Apl + A p 2 - Ap~, (kgfcm-2), (9)
temperature; P is the pressure measured at absolute where Ap2 and Ap~ correspond to friction pressure drop
temperature T; Cp/Co is the ratio of specific heats; M in the flexible connecting hose and local pressure drop,
is molecular weight of the residual gas. respectively.
Heat flux through the structural connecting pieces The heat flux due to friction equals
and supports may be expressed by:
VL" Ap (W/m). (10)
/t,. x F . ( / ~ (T2 - T,) (W/m),
qa(,)-~- (4) qr = ( L l + L2)
The heat absorbed by LH2 from supercooling state to
where q~, q4 correspond to the mean heat flux through the saturation state is
the connecting pieces and supports per unit length of
pipe, respectively. ).,, is the mean value of thermal Qo = GL" Cpm" AT, (W). (11)
conductivity of the material in the temperature range The total heat loss during the transfer process of LH,,
Tz--T~ (Win -~ K-l); b is the length of heat transfer path, is
m; N denotes the number of supports; F,. is the average
heat transfer area of connecting pieces or supports, m 2. q, = q + q/(W/m). (12)
Because the heat transfer area of a flexible wave Hence, the length of a single phase flow region in the
hose is much greater than that of a straight pipe, more- LHz transfer pipe is
over its number of supports is also more than the latter
case, thus the radiation heat flux of the former is much L ,p = Q__._2,(m). (13)
greater the latter. Due to the complexity of calculation, q,
its radiation heat flux may be taken as q5 = 3.5 W/m
that is twice the value of straight tube. When L , p ~ (Ll + L2), single phase flow can be
Therefore, the average cool loss of a whole transfer realized in the pipe under the given inlet pressure and
line is: degree of supercooling. If Lsp< (Lt + L2), the LH2
may be vaporized in the transfer line, thus the two-
q, (ql+qE+q3+q4)'Ll+qs"Lz(w/m),
= LI + L2 (5) phase flow may happen. In this case, the length of the
single phase flow must be readjusted. For the main-
where Ll is total length of a LH: transfer line, m; L2 tenance of the single phase flow in the pipe, the degree
is the length of a flexible connecting hose, m. of supercooling for LH2 must be also readjusted.
In order to guarantee the transfer of LH: in a single perature; Mc represents the mass of transfer line being
phase flow, we assume a reserved factor KL: cooled, kg; h,, hi correspond to the enthalpy of the pipe
metal (kJ kg -j K -1) at ambient and operating temper-
Kt_ - Lsp t> 1, (14) ature, respectively; rig is vaporization heat of cryogen
L1 + L2 (kJ kg -1) at saturated state corresponding to the oper-
which should be satisfied after completing the design ating pressure.
of the whole system. The enthalpy increment in the During the cooldown process, if we can not only use
LH: transfer process is the vaporization heat of cryogen, but also use the
enthalpy increment of the vaporized cryogen gas so that
L1 + L2 its outlet temperature from the transfer pipe may be
Ah = q, GL (15)
equal to the inner wall temperature of that pipe at the
A LH2 transfer process in the T - S diagram is shown exit, thus we can sufficiently utilize the maximum cool-
in Fig. 6. According to the initial enthalpy of LH2, hi ing capability of the cryogen. In such case, its perform-
and the enthalpy increase caused by the total cool loss ance is closer to that of the transfer process of LH: with
Ah, the value of enthalpy of LH: at the pipe exit can slow velocity flowing in a small pipe. Usually, during
be calculated, he = hi + Ah. Using the inlet pressure pi the operation, we often use the nitrogen gas first to
of LH: and the total pressure drop in the transfer pipe, cooldown the pipe, then substitute nitrogen with hydro-
the outlet pressure of LHz at the transfer exit can be gen gas. Finally, after the desired performance has been
also determined: p~ = p , - A p . From the exit state reached, the LH2 will be blown into that cooled transfer
(pc, he) and the back-pressure of LH2 trailer or storage pipe. The minimum required quantity of cryogen to
vessel pb, the throttled vaporization rate at the exit X, cooldown a pipe is
can be found from the para-hydrogen T - S diagram, dm
hence the throttled vaporized mass flow rate at the exit Mmin = Me" omi, = Me ~-~,~
of a transfer pipe G,, can be obtained:
G,, = GL. Xe. (16)
The effective transfer quantity of LH2 in the pipe G,
is then
Here Omi, denotes the minimum required mass of cry-
G, = GL - Go. (17) ogen to cooldown a unit mass of pipe metal to the
operating temperature; Cpg is the average specific heat
Finally, the transfer efficiency r/of a LH2 transfer line of cryogen gas at constant pressure, o=,~ and a~i. may
can be calculated be obtained from calculation or experiments, usually
G~ it may be plotted in curves as a function of temperature
, = ~. (18) and cryogenic capacity. During the estimation of cool-
down time, the following assumptions have been made:
(1) for a transfer line insulated with high vacuum
5, E S T I M A T I O N OF A C O O L D O W N PROCESS jacket, the heat leakage from circumstance and the heat
In practice, the cooldown process of a LH2 transfer flux due to friction are relative small compared with the
line is an unsteady heat transfer process. During the cooldown energy consumed for the structural material
cooldown period, there exists different flow regimes in of the pipe, thus they may be ignored;
the pipe with single gas phase, single liquid phase as (2) the cooldown energy consumed in the inside vol-
well as two phase regions which are changed with time ume of a pipe is very small that it can be neglected;
and location of the pipe. In the transfer line, there also (3) the mass of the transfer pipe along tube-axis is
exists not only the axial temperature gradient, but also uniformly distributed, no concentrating mass acts on
the radial temperature gradient. Strictly speaking, at the pipe.
each point in the pipe, the temperature, heat transfer From the above simplifications, an approximate equa-
coefficient, flow state, etc. are all varied with location tion can be obtained to estimate the required cooldown
and time. Hence, the process is very complicated. time for cooling the LHz transfer pipe to the operating
Assume that only the heat of vaporization can be temperature [7]
used to carry away the heat of metal pipe at the ambient
temperature. Thus, the maximum cryogen consumption McC,,(T,, - T,) (s), (21)
may be estimated from the expression [7] as below:
where W denotes the time-averaged mass flow rate of
Mmax = Mcom~ = Mc h. - hi (kg), (19) a cryogen gas. Because of the complexity of cooldown
process and the deviation between the above assump-
where Crma~denotes the maximum demand of cryogen tions and the real process, the actual cooldown time is
(kg per kg metal) for cooldown the unit mass of pipe much longer than the calculated value, Thus, it can be
metal from ambient temperature to the operating tern- used only for reference.
130 D. Z. CHEN AND H. J. LIU

6. E X A M P L E OThe length of the LH2 single phase region: L,p =

293 m;
A practical example is introduced here to illustrate
OL,p > (Lt + Lz), thus the condition of single phase
the above design method for the calculation of a LH:
flow is satisfied;
transfer pipe line with 200-m long length.
OThe reserved factor for heat loss: Kc = 1.43;
(1) Design conditions
OThe throttled vaporization rate at pipe exit: Xe =
OLiquid hydrogen mass flow rate: G t = 100 kg h-l; 0.08;
OTotal length of the transfer line: L1 -- 200 m; OEffective mass flow rate of LH2 in pipe: G~_ =
@The length of flexible insulating hose: L2 = 5 m; 92 kg h-~;
OPara-hydrogen concentration in the L H 2 : p H 2 = OThe transfer efficiency: r/= 92%.
99.0%; (4) Estimation of cooldown process
o A m b i e n t temperature: 7". = 300 K. OThe required cooling mass of cryogen: M,~ =
(2) Design parameters 550 kg;
ODiameter of inner tube: Di = 0.02m; diameter of @Maximum demand of cryogen: Mm~ = 104kg;
the outer tube; Do = 0.05 m; o M i n i m u m required mass of cryogen: Mini, = 20 kg:
o T h e velocity of LH2 (selected): WL = 2 m s-l; OThe calculated cooldown time: r - 5 rain;
o B a c k pressure of the transfer pipe: pb = 39 Pa inlet @The designed structure of the pipe may be seen
pressure: p~ = 294 Pa; from the Figs 1 to 5.
OThe LH2 inlet temperature: T, = 24.2 K; Degree of
supercooling: T = 2 K;
OSpecific weight of LH2: 7L = 64.5 kg m-3;
OVacuum in the annular insulating jacket: p = 7. C O N C L U D I N G R E M A R K S
10 -6 torr; It is reasonable and practicable to design a LH2 trans-
(3) Steady-state heat transfer calculation of the transfer fer line with small diameter and low transfer velocity
pipe which can realize the single phase flow in the pipe and
O Radiation heat flux: ql = 2.91 kJ m -1 h-l; satisfy the requirement of minimum safety distance. At
O H e a t flux of residual gas: q= = 0.80 kJ m -~ h-~; a given mass transfer rate, the greater the transfer
OHeat flux through the connecting pieces: q3 = distance, the longer the residence time of LH2 in the
1.21 kJ m -~ h-~; pipe, and thus the more strict insulation must be
O H e a t flux through the structural supports: q4 = required. However, by means of sophisticated insula-
1.06 kJ Pa-~; tion, the transfer process with single phase flow can be
OHeat leakage through the flexible insulating hose: achieved in a wide range of parameters.
qs = 10kJm -~ h-l;
@Frictional pressure drop of straight pipe: Ap= =
OLocal pressure drop of straight pipe: A p l = REFERENCES
0.4 kPa; 1. R. B. Jacobs, Advances in Cryogenic Engineering, Vol. 1
OTotal pressure drop of insulating hose: Ap= = (1960).
1.0 kPa; 2. J. D. Rogers, AIChE J., Vol. 6, No. 4 (1956).
OTotal pressure in the transfer process: A p = 3. G. J. Hummer, AEC Report, BNL 764, (1962).
9.0 kPa; 4. B. H. Bailey, Handbook for Hydrogen Handling Equip-
OOutlet pressure at pipe exit: p~ = 285 kPa; ment, PB-161835, (1960).
5. R. D. McCarty, Hydrogen Properties, Hydrogen Series.
O H e a t flux due to friction in the transfer process: Vol. III. (ed. K. E. Cox) (1975).
q / = 0.05 kJ m - ' h-l; 6. F. J. Edeskuty and K. D. Williamson, LH2 Storage and
OAverage cool loss in the transfer process: q = Transmission, Hydrogen Series, Vol. II. (ed. K. E. Cox)
6.15 kJ m -1 h-l; (1977).
OTotal cool loss of the transfer line: q, = 8 kJ m - ' 7. R. B. Jacobs, Advances in Cryogenic Engineering, Vol. 8
h-'; (1963).