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Hydrogen Fuel Not as Dangerous as Previously Thought – Sandia National Laboratories

Research suggests more gasoline stations could safely store and deliver liquid hydrogen fuel than previously thought.
Research suggests more gasoline stations could safely store and deliver liquid hydrogen fuel than previously thought.

According to recent studies by Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), more existing gas stations could be utilized to store and deliver hydrogen fuel for upcoming hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but only if the restrictions were more scientifically-based.

One only has to mention “Hindenburg” to recall infamous images of flaming death and the cry, “Oh, the humanity!” The accident is typically blamed on the Hindenburg’s buoyant hydrogen gas, the same as the gaseous hydrogen fuel that the Toyota FCV and other hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will use. Hydrogen is, indeed, flammable, but also invisible, so if it was hydrogen burning, it would have been unseen, however still disastrous. Today, we no longer use hydrogen-buoyant airships, but what of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles?

The tanks themselves are bulletproof, so safety in an accident between say, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and that idiot who ran the red light because he was talking on his mobile phone, would be serious, but not a Hindenburg-like disaster. On the other hand, where would you fuel your Toyota FCV? According to research of seventy gasoline stations in California, exactly zero of them would be suitable for hydrogen fuel storage and delivery, at least under the 2005 NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) code.

Considering there are somewhere around 120,000 gasoline stations in the United States, extrapolating the number of suitable stations under the 2005 NFPA code would necessitate trillions of dollars to site and build dedicated hydrogen fueling stations. If gas stations adopted the NPFA 2 code, released in 2011, covering the safe storage and delivery of liquid hydrogen fuel, 20% of the stations in the study could easily integrate hydrogen storage on site, as could an additional 24% with available site extensions.

Extrapolating Sandia National Laboratories’ numbers from the study, this means a potential of nearly 54,000 current gasoline stations could easily adopt hydrogen refueling infrastructure. Still, small city-based operations might be left out, but there should still be enough to fuel an expected small population of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

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  1. Mick Segal This is a nice experiment and from a scientific standpoint laudable; but, for the mass market that would be needed by millions of electric cars augmented by range extender fuel cells, not very promising.  At present, only the oil companies can supply that mass market need for hydrogen by heating reforming and compressing oil and natural gas.  Oil companies are in control of the U. S. energy market and hydrogen will ensure they will continue to control the price of automotive fuels.  Stick around and watch: “Hydrogen is Big Oil’s New Gasoline.”

  2. 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


  3. Hyundai “Tuscon” Fuel Cell Vehicle$499 per month w/ Free Fuel & Free Maintenance from Hyundai!!! (pure water for exhaust)https://www.hyundaiusa.com/tucsonfuelcell/
    Toyota joins California Hydrogen Push in Station Funding – Bloomberghttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-01/california-awards-46-6-million-for-hydrogen-car-stations.html

  4. Serving hydrogen at gas stations is all part of oil company’s plan.  Oil companies see Hydrogen as the new Gasoline; they create hydrogen by heating, reforming and compressing oil and natural gas, almost the same as refining gasoline.  Hydrogen allows them to maintain their control of the U.S. fuels market and to continue to set the price of fuels.  Fuel Cell Vehicles are their creation to counter plugin battery electric vehicles which derive their fuel from the grid and local renewables.  Where BEVs give you independence; hydrogen means you are controlled by Big Oil and they continue mining oil and gas and polluting.

    “Mining oil and gas is a dangerous and nasty business that requires political and legal protection so companies can pollute and damage health, water, air and land.”


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