(117cc) Transitioning from One Explosive Fuel to the Next – Safety Considerations in the Emerging Hydrogen Economy | AIChE

(117cc) Transitioning from One Explosive Fuel to the Next – Safety Considerations in the Emerging Hydrogen Economy


Dee, S., Exponent
Buehler, C., Exponent Inc
Wechsung, A., Exponent
Since the turn of the century, there has been a focus on the development of the hydrogen economy, driven by the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through utilization of alternative energies and cleaner fuels. With both the current and future interest in utilizing hydrogen, it is crucial to evaluate and mitigate the fire and explosion risks posed by hydrogen during storage and transfer. While many other fuels such as natural gas, propane, LNG, and petroleum also present flammability and explosive hazards, hydrogen has several unique characteristics. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, a relatively low ignition energy, low density, and wide flammability limits. These properties present unique challenges for risk management compared to other flammable liquids and gases that will need to be addressed as the hydrogen economy further expands into its emerging market.

In this paper, the properties of hydrogen and how they impact the fire and explosion hazard compared to other fuels will be analyzed. Then, best practices and risk management will be discussed for storage and transferring fuels, with a focus on highlighting differences that are important considerations for hydrogen. Finally, a case study will be presented that reviews an incident involving a hydrogen leak and ensuing jet fire that ignited during the removal of a portable tube trailer. The events that led to the unintended release and ignition of pressurized hydrogen, and the lessons learned from the incident will be discussed. The case study will highlight several aspects related to the safe storage and transfer of hydrogen in commercial applications.


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