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Why hydrogen is safe

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Hynion has 20 years of experience with hydrogen, and safety considerations have determined every single coupling in the company's stations.

Hydrogen is as safe as any other fuel, but it has different properties. Therefore, it must be handled differently than fuels such as petrol and diesel.

All fuel types contain a lot of energy ­– which is precisely the property we want to utilize. Due to the amount of energy, all fuels are potentially dangerous, but we have learned to handle them so that we can use them safely and efficiently.

 

How Hynion works with security

With extensive industry experience, university collaboration, and clever technical solutions, Hynion makes hydrogen a safe alternative to petrol, diesel, and batteries.

– Safety is paramount, says technical manager Pål Midtbøen in Hynion.

As the leader of a hydrogen company, he is well used to talking about the safety work that is the basis for the fuel revolution that is being developed.

Hydrogen has been a safe and sustainable alternative to petrol and diesel for over 20 years. But in 2019, an explosion at an Uno-X station in Sandvika led to a lot of questions from the public. Suddenly, one negative incident defined the entire industry, even though players such as Hynion have worked purposefully for many years to develop safe solutions for filling hydrogen.

– People became more skeptical after Sandvika, and I understand that. Although, in the years that Hynion has been working, we have soon delivered 10,000 fillings. We have been doing this for a long time, and we have filled quite a few cars without any accidents, says Midtbøen.

Midtbøen states that the Hynion stations are designed differently from the Uno-X station that exploded in 2019, with systems developed by professionals with long experience from Norwegian industrial companies such as Norsk Hydro and Statoil (now Equinor).

 

How to avoid accidents

– Mainly, safety is ensured through the detection of gas emissions. If we get a small leak, we will detect it quickly, says Midtbøen.

There is no wonder that this is where the focus is. The accident in 2019 occurred when an error created a gas leak. The leak was not detected in time, and it was eventually ignited.

The detection system currently used at Hynion's station at Høvik outside Oslo is the Norwegian industry standard. The same technology is used on platforms in the North Sea to detect discharges. You can't get a much better endorsement than that.

– If you have a leak, you have to be able to detect it. The system we use does that right away, says Midtbøen.

 

20 years of experience

– When Hynion works with safety, twenty years of experience from the industry is worth a lot. We are used to thinking about safety all the way through, says Pål Midtbøen.

The technical manager says that safety considerations have determined every single coupling in the company's stations. In addition to the detection systems, the station's safety is ensured by solid and durable high-pressure-proof screwed couplings. It's all about creating secure connections.

– This means that there are almost no leaks, and they keep tight for years, Midtbøen says.

All parts of the station are also constructed of steel. There are no gaskets or rubber that can weaken over time – all high-pressure parts in Hynion's stations consist of steel connected to steel.

 

Collaboration for increased knowledge

Although much of Hynion's safety work is based on routine and technical experience, Hynion always seeks new knowledge. Therefore, the company has in recent years collaborated with the University of South-Eastern Norway. Through the university, they have access to a solid academic environment with extensive expertise in hydrogen. The same research community has previously worked with both Hydro and Equinor. The collaboration ensures that Hynion always bases its safety work on up-to-date and solid knowledge.

– The university has been researching hydrogen explosions and fires for a long time and is an obvious partner for us when it comes to safety, says Midtbøen.

– If there is anything we need to know, we talk to them, says Midtbøen.

 

Crash-proof tanks

Once you have filled the car with hydrogen, it can be nice to know that it is stored in tanks made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, which can withstand a great deal of mechanical impact. According to the Norwegian magazine Technology Weekly, a Mercedes hydrogen car was severely damaged by a truck hitting it from the side, but the hydrogen tank held. In the development of such tanks, they are, among other things, tested by shooting with piercing ammunition to punch holes in them. These tanks are so solid that even a full magazine from an automatic rifle is unable to punch holes – and thus, there is no leakage, even with significant mechanical impact.

 

Simply put: Hydrogen is as safe as other fuels, and hydrogen cars are designed to be as safe as today's modern cars, with a strong focus on safety.