Green Hydrogen Inherent Safety Practices on large industrial scale

Publieke samenvatting / Public summary

Large scale green hydrogen production through water electrolysis is one of important solutions towards the Energy Transition in order to meet the CO2 emission reduction goals in the Climate Agreement. The safety of water electrolysis remains a constant concern. Safety incidents with new water electrolysis projects may cause personal injuries or worse and lead to economic damages and less public acceptance. Suppliers of electrolyzer systems have limited knowledge of specific hazard scenarios related to the presence of hydrogen and oxygen inside the same equipment separated by a thin membrane. Though industrial end-users have a lot of experience and expertise in safety of Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) based hydrogen production, water electrolysis has different risks that are not entirely clear or rated differently amongst people involved in risk assessments. Also, competent authorities, fire departments and environmental protection agencies lack sufficient objective information on green hydrogen related process and external safety, mitigation and abatement. It is therefore important to understand and validate the potential risks with Green Hydrogen technologies.

This project aims to gather and develop knowledge towards new inherent safety concept for large scale industrial green hydrogen production to meet the implementation of the energy transition challenges and accelerate the green hydrogen economy. We want to assess fundamentals of explosion and validating integrity of safety assessment methodology. Therefore, we need to assess tools, methods and data related to the assessment of hazards, in particular fire and explosions. These are necessary for project teams to develop new inherent safety concept water electrolysis plants. And are crucial to give guidance for hazard assessment and risk mitigation and avoiding unnecessary capital investments. Thus leading towards improved awareness, reducing risks to society and supporting social acceptance with transparency about risks and mitigations.

Korte omschrijving
To get a clear view on risk prevention, we must research the actual knowledge situation on risk management, review recent incidents with hydrogen electrolysers and analyze the apparent knowledge gap between theory and practice. This gives us insights for developing safety tools in this field. We start with investigating hazard and risk assessment integrity and methodology. We focus on hazards with low likelihood and high severity with electrolysers, understanding scenarios with mixing of H2 and O2, especially inside equipment, delayed ignition and deflagration to detonation transition (DDT). Parallel we research fire and explosion tools, methods and data, determining methodology for identification of internal safety distance and sensitivity to prevent/mitigate/optimize. Subsequently we analyze the knowledge gap. We gain an overview of safety incidents and near misses to water electrolysis and check what is missing regarding specific safety of water electrolysis. The last activity is to develop and validate best practices for safe water electrolysis plants.

The results of this project are: • Facts and figures for explosion risks with O2/H2 mixtures in equipment • Increased integrity in hazards and risk assessment • Validated knowledge in delayed ignition and explosion with deflagration and detonation • Evaluated methods for determining safety distances and best practices for inherent safe design for industries • A fact sheets to authorities • A road map for follow-up development