Replacing obsolete gas regulators with innovation fit for the future, hydrogen included




Replacing obsolete gas regulators with innovation fit for the future, hydrogen included.


As the UK’s largest gas distribution network serving 11 million homes and businesses, Cadent takes its pursuit of innovation seriously. It views innovation as essential to ensuring the safe and reliable flow of gas and a prerequisite to operating a network that remains fit for the future.


As part of its long-term development plan, Cadent is making a series of replacements and upgrades to its pressure equipment to reinforce and extend the capacity of its networks so that it can meet growing demand.  


However, when it came to refurbishing an above ground site in Merseyside, Cadent found that the regulators had become obsolete, and the existing suppliers were unable to provide an alternative in the timeframe required. It turned to flow control equipment specialist, Oxford Flow, for help.


Hitting the sweet spot of speed and quality


Oxford Flow, which has developed several alternative valve and regulator solutions since 2015, presented its field-tested, British-made IM-S wafer type gas regulator for consideration. Unlike traditional valves and regulators, Oxford Flow’s innovation has no diaphragm in the regulator body eliminating the most significant failure point of conventional technology.


The independently tested and externally verified solution could not only solve Cadent’s problems but exceed the capabilities of the existing regulators in its network. Furthermore, while suitable for natural gas, the unique design can also handle blended hydrogen and biomethane, creating a futureproofed option that supports the gas grid’s transition to renewables and ensures the investment would be long lived.


Using in house knowledge and expertise, Oxford Flow was able to ensure the regulator was compatible with Cadent’s application. Once approved, Oxford Flow then designed and manufactured the three-inch active monitor regulators, pipework, and connection facings in just four weeks. 


Responsive optimisation


Following installation, although the regulator was performing within specification, in the spirit of continuous improvement, Oxford Flow worked with Cadent to analyse and model the site’s flow rates and enacted some small tweaks to further enhance performance. This was made possible by Oxford Flow’s highly experienced engineering team, which combines decades of experience in energy, aerospace and Formula 1. By going the extra-mile to optimise and improve performance beyond what had been expected, Cadent had a solution that not only met, but exceeded, the performance of the original regulators.


A replacement with long-term dividends


The long-term benefits of the new regulators include a 10-year minimum service interval, improved pressure control, and 100% hydrogen readiness. Since installation, the regulators have never failed shut-off checks. Additionally, because IM-S does not utilise a diaphragm — a primary point of failure – the regulators promise less frequent maintenance, improved operations, and a reduction in emissions – issues that are common with other gas regulators.


Oxford Flow’s collaborative style of working and its passion for creating partnerships with customers offers further advantages – particularly for those gas distributors with more technically challenging specifications. As with Cadent, it works closely with its customers, taking them through every step of the process to engineer the optimal solution – and it isn’t afraid of the challenge of innovating unique solutions.  


This agile, more attentive, and human approach is highly valued by Cadent. In fact, nearly three years on, Oxford Flow continues to work with Cadent across its operations in the UK and beyond to replace end-of-life regulators across its network.


Oxford Flow’s ability to deliver cutting-edge regulators that will be suitable for whatever form the UK’s hydrogen future may be, along with its speedy but considered approach to deliver results, set the innovative valve-solutions provider apart from the rest of the pack.



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