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SAFETY MUST BE FIRST PRIORITY FOR NEW FUELS, SAYS LR

Monday, June 8, 2020 

According to Lloyd's Register (LR), in order to achieve the UN Climate Panel goal of world CO2 emissions reaching zero by 2050, solutions based on hydrogen are central, and safety must be the number one priority.

LR in Norway has produced a safety guide, covering a hydrogen-based fuel infrastructure, in collaboration with Norwegian hydrogen cluster Ocean Hyway Cluster (OHC) which comprises 41 companies in the hydrogen industry. The document emphasises safety by discussing the learning experiences from accidents and large-scale tests as well as the current regulations and requirements for approval of facilities.

Olav Roald Hansen, a hydrogen expert at LR said: “The properties of hydrogen and ammonia are very different from conventional fuels. Producers of vessels, vehicles and infrastructure must understand these differences and design safe systems.”

LR says that hydrogen-based fuels are "somewhat new", so there is still uncertainty about both the fuel itself and how best to produce, transport and bunker it.

"Hydrogen-based fuel is absolutely manageable. But compared to the fuel we are used to, the risk of explosion is greater for hydrogen. Furthermore, ammonia, among other things, has the challenge of being toxic. Therefore, extra attention must be given to designing safe systems”, said Hansen. "It's not the energy carriers themselves that are dangerous, but the way they are handled. The properties of hydrogen and ammonia are very different from the fuels that people are familiar with. Producers of vessels, vehicles and infrastructure need to understand the differences and design the systems safely for users with varying levels of expertise and for different environments. If you do not have the knowledge yourself, you should seek expert assistance. Relevant authorities such as the Norwegian Maritime Directorate and the Directorate for Social Security and Emergency Management must also do their best to guide and care for us."

When pressurised ammonia is discharged, a cloud of fog is formed which is heavier than air and can create a hazardous zone of considerable area. One of the recommendations is to consider transporting and storing ammonia in a refrigerated form, as evaporation during any discharge, and thus the hazardous area, will be smaller.

Norway aims to have its first infrastructure project started by 2021.

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