In an ever-changing world, the move to alternative energy sources is a necessity for sustainability of our planet which offers some new challenges to the fire protection industry. No longer will pool fire (UL1709) be the industry standard with greater emphasis been given to cryogenic release and jet fire type scenarios. Our engineers are already involved with these challenges and are working with industry bodies to advance technology and understanding for these upcoming requirements.
Hydrogen is the first element in the periodic table and it’s the most abundant chemical substance in the universe. On earth, it is normally found in combination with other elements (in water molecules, for example) but rarely in its pure form. Currently hydrogen plays a major role in many industrial processes and many countries are setting a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Because of this significant expansion in the use of hydrogen is expected. Hydrogen is being considered or already used in energy transportation and storage, land, sea and air transport, domestic heating, meaning that there will be a consistent growth for hydrogen production and storage facilities across the globe.
However, the hydrogen industry is still in the first stages of development and therefore, for now there isn’t enough design and operational experience and data when compared to the oil and gas industry. Hydrogen can be stored both in gaseous and liquid form and different fire scenarios must be developed for each, depending on how hydrogen is stored, storage volume, storage pressure, leak size, etc.
According to PFPNet, experimental studies have showed that for like-for-like releases, the external flame characteristics are not significantly different, with hydrogen flames being slightly shorter than like-for-like methane/natural gas flames. However, hydrogen jet fire will have a duration of about one third of that of a methane/natural gas jet fire due to the higher volumetric outflow in the case of hydrogen and the hydrogen jet fire flame temperatures are greater than those in methane/natural gas jet fires.
There are undergoing studies to assess if the existing ISO 22899-1 and High Heat Flux (HHF) standards developed for natural gas/ methane jet fires are sufficient to indicate the performance of the PFP in case of a hydrogen jet fire. If it’s found that ISO 22899-1 is applicable for hydrogen jet fires, then our entire product range: K-MASS®, K-MASS Lite® and K-CABS can be used as fireproofing solutions for CPCE to hydrogen jet fires. If the result of these studies will show that ISO 22899-1 and HHF are not good enough to cope with hydrogen jet fires, then, most probably a new standard specifically designed for hydrogen jet fires will be developed and all products available on the market, including K-MASS®, need to be tested to the this new hydrogen jet fire standard.