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Hydrogen safety for the industry - Hydrogen safety for the industry ecology energy solution

Hydrogen safety for the industry

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Hydrogen safety – a new energy source with special risks

Hydrogen (H2) is one of the most important sources of clean energy. In a move towards a more sustainable future, the number of hydrogen production and distribution facilities is expanding. With decades of experience in the process industry, Dräger is the ideal partner for customers and stakeholders – especially new players on the market – in assessing risks and providing comprehensive consultancy and hydrogen safety solutions. Dräger offers the first point of contact for hydrogen safety issues with thorough knowledge of the hazards of working with hydrogen.

Hydrogen safety challenges

How to meet hydrogen safety challenges

Hydrogen itself is not toxic, but it poses special risks to safety on plants and for the infrastructure which produce, distribute or use it. Read about the safety challenges and how Dräger can support the hydrogen economy with comprehensive risk analysis, project planning, selection and installation of the right safety solutions and services in all phases of the process.

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Hydrogen explosions and other major risks

The 7 hydrogen safety challenges

Hydrogen does not impose major new risks compared to other gases. The trouble spots occur where people are involved in tasks along the hydrogen value chain, from production to use. Even though specific challenges differ between applications, plant safety is common to all. Here are some of the risk factors which Drager explores in projects with customers:

Explosion

Explosion

Unlike actual explosives, pure hydrogen cannot explode. The risk comes when it hits the air. For hydrogen to cause an explosion, oxygen needs to be present. But if hydrogen is allowed to escape, even a static spark from clothing would be enough to set off an explosion.

Flame

Invisible flame

Hydrogen burns with a very pale flame that is invisible in daylight. Because it emits little of the infrared radiation that humans perceive as heat, it cannot be sensed as heat. A hydrogen flame does however emit substantial ultraviolet radiation. Special UV detectors are therefore required to alert to the presence of hydrogen flames.

Leaks

Leaks

Owing to its small molecules and low viscosity, hydrogen can leak from pipelines and other structures more easily than denser gases. In fact, when it leaks from a pipe at sufficiently high pressure, hydrogen can even self-ignite. As well as pipelines engineered to hydrogen-ready specifications, regular inspection is imperative to detect leak points at joints and along pipelines. Fixed leak detectors add another layer of safety.

Permeation

Permeation

Hydrogen can easily permeate materials and in some cases embrittle them. For this reason, stainless steel and composite materials are typically used for storage tanks.

Alarms

CO alarms

Carbon monoxide (CO) sensors are cross-sensitive to hydrogen. If used near possible hydrogen exposure, CO sensors should be compensated for hydrogen so that cross-sensitivity and false alarms are reduced to a minimum.

Gas pockets

Gas pockets

Like ammonia and methane, hydrogen is less dense than air and forms gas pockets below indoor ceilings when leaking. The presence of hydrogen will not be perceived at ground level, even when dangerous amounts are accumulating beneath the ceiling. When hydrogen and methane are mixed, hydrogen can form gas pockets above methane. Hydrogen detectors are therefore typically placed at the top, with methane detectors below that level.

Colourless

Odourless and colourless

Hydrogen has no smell and no colour, so is undetectable for humans. With methane, this issue is mitigated by adding odorants, and research is in progress to determine whether this will also be possible with hydrogen. Gas and leak detectors are essential.

Explosion protection gas detection systems

Hydrogen explosion

The presence of hydrogen increases risks to safety have to be addressed with adequate measures. Due to its special properties, hydrogen sensors need to be selected to deal with hydrogen safety challenges, particularly for one major threat: the risk of hydrogen explosions.

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Areas of application for hydrogen

Hydrogen production

Hydrogen safety for the industry production

In a global shift towards carbon-neutral renewable energy sources, demand for more sustainably sourced hydrogen is increasing. Wind and solar farms have the option to produce this “green” hydrogen, but this presents new major safety hazards on their sites, due to the flammability and explosive properties of H2. Especially at the start of production, hydrogen is highly pressurised and highly flammable. The flame itself is virtually invisible, which means plants require excellent safeguards against hydrogen explosions.

Hydrogen distribution and storage

Hydrogen safety for the industry storage

The production of hydrogen in industrial quantities requires efficient – and safe – methods and facilities for transportation, distribution and storage before it reaches suppliers and consumers. Existing infrastructure of gas networks and pipelines can often be used to transport hydrogen to its relevant markets, but detection, monitoring and maintenance must be specially adapted for the risk of leaks. Most storages facilities, such as tanks and valves, are generally safe, but on-site activity by people and machinery increases safety hazards.

Hydrogen usage

Hydrogen safety for the industry usage

Goals for reducing emissions from fossil fuels and their detrimental impact on the environment has increased the demand for cleaner energies like hydrogen via fuel cell production. Some uses include fuel cell electric vehicles for long-distance road, rail and maritime transportation. Fuel stations, repair shops and garage facilities have expanded their core business to include hydrogen to cater for this new consumption sector. This means they also have to conform to new safety measures and accumulate relevant essential safety experience.

Hydrogen Safety and Emergency Management

Hydrogen safety starts with risk analysis, needs solid project planning and includes dedicated hydrogen detection solutions.

Hydrogen application info

Safety solutions for hydrogen detection

The special safety challenges of hydrogen management require customised hydrogen detection and protective measures. As expert in gas detection technology, Dräger provides tried and tested solutions like hydrogen sensors for diverse customer applications in meeting specific hydrogen safety requirements. A wide selection of mobile and fixed gas detection devices and systems cover all scenarios and requirements for optimal hydrogen safety.

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Safety and Emergency Management Escape Sign

Consultancy for your Safety

Consultancy in handling hydrogen safety challenges is a matter for Dräger safety engineers. Experts review existing concepts to identify potential for improvement and establish sustainable safety. They provide conceptual support, assess your risks and define measures together with you.

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Hydrogen safety: Solutions for detection, monitoring and protection

Fixed Gas Detection Systems

For safe production, storage and distribution of hydrogen, various detection technologies must be employed to build efficient levels of protection as a comprehensive safety solution. Hydrogen sensor devices provide instant alerts in case of hazardous leaks or risks of combustion.

Dräger PEX 3000

Dräger PEX 3000

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Dräger Polytron 5200

PointGard 2200

Dräger PointGard 2200

Polytron 8900

Dräger Polytron® 8900 UGLD

Polytron 6100 EC WL

Dräger Polytron® 6100 EC WL

Hydrogen safety: Solutions for detection, monitoring and protection

Mobile Gas Detection Devices

Leak detection and personal air monitoring while working in hydrogen production, storage and transportation environments are the main applications for portable gas detectors. In addition, clearance measurement must be carried out prior to maintenance work using mobile detection and monitoring devices with hydrogen sensors.

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Dräger X-am® 2500

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Dräger X-am® 5000

X-am 8000

Dräger X-am® 8000

Personal Protective Equipment

Occupational health and safety equipment is essential to protect employees during maintenance works on hydrogen production plants. Escape respiratory devices must be available in case of emergencies.

Draeger X-plore 3300/3500 Half masks

Dräger X-plore® 3300/3500

Pas colt

Dräger PAS® Colt

Parat 4700/7500

Filtering Escape Devices - Dräger product finder

Hydrogen safety logo

Our organization is a member of the Center for Hydrogen Safety, which is a global nonprofit resource that supports and promotes the safe handling and use of hydrogen across industrial and consumer applications in the energy transition. For more information visit the Center for Hydrogen Safety website.

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Get in touch with Dräger

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Draeger Safety India Private Limited

9th Floor, Commerz II, International Business Park,
Oberoi Garden City,
Off Western Express Highway, Goregaon (East),
Mumbai - 400 063, India

022 6133 5600