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Fuel Cell Vehicle Myth Four – Hydrogen Fuel Storage is Dangerous

Fuel Cell Vehicle Myth Four – Hydrogen Fuel Storage is Dangerous
Fuel Cell Vehicle Myth Four – Hydrogen Fuel Storage is Dangerous

I’m really getting on a roll here, talking about various myths surrounding fuel cell vehicles, and I’m looking forward to hearing what our faithful readers of The Green Optimistic have to say about the technology.

Mention hydrogen, and one image that may come to mind is the infamous self-destruction of the airship Hindenburg, which was held aloft by sealed “balloons” of lightweight pure hydrogen gas. “Oh, the humanity!” Within the next few years, with the release of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, such as the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell and Toyota FCV, are we just making it easier for Hindenburg-esque accidents on the highways and at fueling stations?

Recently, Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) studied the viability and safety of installing hydrogen refueling equipment at gas stations in California. Interestingly, SNL determined that hydrogen storage and dispensing equipment isn’t nearly as dangerous as previously assumed under old fire safety codes. A little less than half the gas stations in the US could easily integrate equipment to service fuel cell vehicles without introducing anything more dangerous than compressed natural gas refueling, which is also available at many gas stations.

On the other hand, what about the fuel cell vehicles themselves? Of course, a fuel cell vehicle would have to carry hydrogen fuel, and wouldn’t this effectively make it a hydrogen bomb? Well, no, not exactly. First, considering that hydrogen and gasoline have about the same energy per unit, we’re not talking explosions. Second, since hydrogen is buoyant, it tends to rise. This test setting a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle on fire and a conventional vehicle on fire is very telling…

FCV Left, ICE Right
FCV Left & ICE Right at 3 Seconds, 60 Seconds, and 90 Seconds

Finally, hydrogen storage tanks, in spite of being under pressure, up to 875 atmospheres (12,859 psi), Toyota FCV’s composite fuel tanks are extremely safe, unlike the typical high-density polyethylene or steel fuel tank in a conventional vehicle. Toyota tested theirs against a .50 caliber sniper rifle.

Image © Olathe Toyota Parts Center, Forty Fires

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  1. LoneWolffe Mick Segal How about all those oil / nat gas wells “flaring” ?  What a waste that is!  Just read this ridiculous article that said the Nat Gas industry is going to implement NEW RULES about not flaring so much gas and should be implemented NO LATER THAN 2020!  What a bunch of BS!!!
    Rep. NY Charles Rangel –  running for his 22nd term in office?  What a JOKE!

  2. Mick Segal It’s a win-win if we can expand R&D in landfill and sewer gas, which are already responsible for uncounted methane emissions. Why not USE those emissions to make a useable fuel?
    Keep spreading the word!

  3. Nice information here about Hydrogen…  Just read another article on the harsh damage that fracking causes!  Wow!  But hey nobody seems to know what they are injecting right next to all of these water tables… Companies are not required to say???  What a joke!  That’s all you need to know.

    This country needs to gets it congress/senate in order.  Charles Rangel Rep. NY going for his 22nd term in office!  Pathetic!  TWENTY TWO TERMS IN OFFICE???  And people wonder why nothing changes.  NO MORE ATTORNEY / LOBBYISTS.

    Found this link and continue to try and spread the news that there is so much energy in Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants around the country that its really mind boggling that we are acting so slow on this.  Just want to pass it along… 

    Video (Someone took down the video but the article still there) below of what is happening in California at municipal wastewater treatment plants using fuel cell technology to produce 3 value streams of electricity, hydrogen and heat all from a human waste! This is pretty impressive in my opinion for hydro-refueling infrastructure.

    “New fuel cell sewage gas station in Orange County, CA may be world’s first”


    “It is here today and it is deployable today,” said Tom Mutchler of Air Products and Chemicals Inc., a sponsor and developer of the project.

    2.8MW fuel cell using biogas now operating; Largest PPA of its kind in North America



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