Hydrogen Fuel SafetyFriday 11th July 2014
One of the biggest challenges facing electric vehicles early on, and still in many locations, was the scarcity of charging points and stations. This understandably slowed take up, as potential buyers hold-off until they are confident that they can travel without fear. At the same time fuel stations and fuel distributors hesitate to invest heavily in new technology if there are not enough vehicles on the road to offer a profitable market. It’s a Catch 22.
The same problem is now facing the hydrogen fuelled vehicles, such as Toyota's FCV and Hyundai's Tuscon Fuel Cell, with an added problem that hydrogen offers other serious safety concerns.
A new study by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in the U.S. concludes that a number of existing gas stations in California can safely store and dispense hydrogen, suggesting a broader network of hydrogen fuelling stations may be within reach.
The report examined 70 commercial gasoline stations in the state of California and sought to determine which, if any, could integrate hydrogen fuel, based on the U.S. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) hydrogen technologies code published in 2011.
The study determined that 14 of the 70 gas stations involved in the study could readily accept hydrogen fuel and that 17 more possibly could accept hydrogen with property expansions. Under previous NFPA code requirements from 2005, none of the existing gasoline stations could readily accept hydrogen.
The current code, known as NFPA 2, provides fundamental safeguards for the generation, installation, storage, piping, use and handling of hydrogen in compressed gas or cryogenic (low temperature) liquid form.
The development of meaningful, science-based fire codes and determinations such as those found in the report will help accelerate the deployment of hydrogen systems, said Daniel Dedrick, hydrogen program manager at Sandia. “This work shows that we can reduce uncertainty and avoid overly conservative restrictions to commercial hydrogen fuel installations by focusing on scientific, risk-informed approaches.
“It turns out that the number of fueling stations able to carry hydrogen can be quantified,” Dedrick added. “We now know that we can build more hydrogen fueling stations if we examine the safety issues within a sound, technical framework that focuses on the real behaviors of hydrogen.”
Sandia’s hydrogen safety, codes and standards program includes diverse activities funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office to provide the technical basis for developing and revising safety codes and standards for hydrogen infrastructure.
So, in conclusion H2 fueling stations can be as safe as or safer than gasoline stations - all that has to be addressed is getting enough stations carrying hydrogen out there and then enough cars on the road - or is that the other way round.
Friday 11th July 2014