Plastic Pipe (14.7)

Plastic Pipe (14.7)

Criticality: High
Progress: Not Addressed
Score: 40
DOT Relevance: 192.59; 192.501 .517

Description of Key Area

The subject of use of plastic pipe for hydrogen pipelines falls under Subpart B (Materials) of 49 CFR 192 as well as Subpart J (Test Requirements).

Discussion of Criticality

Large scale distribution of hydrogen via a pipeline network would likely require both transmission and distribution network components. The natural gas industry has found plastic pipe to be a cost-effective and safe technology for the lower pressures and flow encountered in the distribution system. Deploying steel at the distribution level could prove to be costly.

Discussion of Progress

To assess the viability of plastic distribution pipe for hydrogen service, material and structure testing needs to be completed as well as testing of common joining methods (bonding and fusion). These needs were expressed by ASME during its presentation at the Materials and Components for the Hydrogen Economy Codes and Standards Workshop held on August 29th to 30th, 2005, in Augusta, GA. ASME B31.12 will incorporate plastic pipe coverage as soon as more data becomes available.


A standard for acceptable plastic material should be defined. This may include polyethylene, polyvinyl, polyamid, and other materials. Research and testing should be conducted on plastic pipe to investigate its compatibility with hydrogen. Specifically, materials suitable for use as hydrogen pipe must be identified, and acceptable joining methods for plastic pipe and fittings must be identified. Current plastic pipe standards should be amended to include hydrogen plastic pipe and these amendments should be incorporated by reference into the federal code.