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Safety Issues with Hydrogen as a Vehicle Fuel

Safety Issues with Hydrogen as a Vehicle Fuel,Mårten Niklasson,David Gårsjö,Anders Folkesson,Per Alvfors,Eva Sunnerstedt,Joakim Hägvall

Safety Issues with Hydrogen as a Vehicle Fuel   (Citations: 1)
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Hydrogen is considered to be one of the most promising, and by far the most environmentally friendly, fuels to replace diesel and petrol in the future. However, public knowledge about hydrogen must increase if hydrogen is going to be accepted as a common vehicle fuel. The safety aspects must be thoroughly and objectively addressed as a single accident very well could stop future hydrogen investments. On the other hand, exaggerated safety precautions make investments unnecessary expensive, which eventually will slow the implementation of hydrogen as a common fuel. This paper aims to highlight the most important results from a Swedish report on hydrogen safety. To evaluate the safety aspects of hydrogen, an assessment of the physical and chemical properties of fuels was made in which hydrogen was compared with other alternative fuels (natural gas, ethanol and liquefied petroleum gas) as well as diesel and petrol. A coarse risk analysis was conducted on the fuel cell buses and the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in Stockholm, built within the Clean Urban Transport for Europe (CUTE) project. When analysing the risks, experiences from industries in Sweden using hydrogen were taken into account. The results from the risk analysis were compared with incident data and a risk analysis from a regular petrol station. Finally, the rules and regulations used in the CUTE-project in Stockholm were attended to, and some modifications were suggested. In Sweden there are no specific regulations for hydrogen as a vehicle fuel today, and therefore the guidelines for natural gas were used in the CUTE-project in Stockholm The results of the comparison of different fuels combined with the risk analysis shows that hydrogen is equally safe, or even safer than, the other fuels that were used for comparison in this study. The risks involved with petrol, diesel and natural gas are accepted today, and there is no reason that hydrogen should not be accepted as well. However, fuels have different properties and require different safety measures - in case of hydrogen, the choice of materials for storage vessels and pipes need to be specially addressed and implemented into the regulations. Also, Swedish regulations limit fuel storage based on volume. This is a drawback for hydrogen because of its low volumetric density compared to other fuels. Separate regulations for gaseous fuels need to be worked out, based on for example energy content and/or pressure, if hydrogen is to be competitive.
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    • ...This paper is based on a comprehensive report available in Swedish.[9]...
    • ...Table 1: Physical and chemical properties for fuels[9]...
    • ...These fuels are well established, and few people think of the risks around, for example, a regular petrol station, where accidents occur from time to time.[9] Petrol emits heavy flammable fumes that stay on the ground and diffuse very slowly...
    • ...Diesel is also less flammable.[9] An explosion involving petrol is quite severe, especially since the burning fuel spreads in the explosion, causing even more damage to the surroundings.[10]...
    • ...Even the friction energy between gas and pipe wall during a leakage might be enough.[9] The hydrogen molecule is very small and can penetrate most materials...
    • ...Hydrogen can be stored as pressurised gas, as liquid at -253 °C or in advanced material structures, e.g. metal hydrides.[9]...
    • ...Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is another alternative fuel, commonly used in some parts of Europe.[9]...
    • ...Risk analysis on the bus workshop, i.e. the garage, can be found elsewhere.[9]...

    Mårten Niklassonet al. Safety Issues with Hydrogen as a Vehicle Fuel

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