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Safety Risks Associated with Leaks in Hydrogen Systems

Principal Investigator(s): 


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Figure 1There are unusual fire hazards associated with hydrogen, including a high propensity to leak, wide flammability limits, ease of ignition, invisible flames, and material degradation. This research concerns experiments and analysis to quantify the unique concerns associated with leaks in hydrogen systems that could result in combustion and possibly catastrophic failure. For example, the present investigator team has found unusual behavior related to hydrogen quenching and blowoff limits – hydrogen leaks were found to support combustion at mass flow rates much lower than leaks of other gaseous fuels. The significance is that a leak in a hydrogen system could ignite, leading to an undetected flame. This flame could weaken the hydrogen containment system to the point of failure. The objectives of this program are as follows:

  • Measure limits of flaming (at ignition, quenching and blowoff) for hydrogen issuing from circular and slot burners of various sizes
  • Measure flame quenching limits of hydrogen leaks in plumbing components
  • Examine material degradation arising from an impinging hydrogen diffusion flame
  • Prepare analytical and models of spontaneous ignition; and
  • Perform CDF analyses of the flames to complement the experiments, yield additional physical insight, and allow the consideration of untested conditions