Hydrogen is quickly becoming a popular alternative fuel to achieve zero-emission goals and lessen our reliance on fossil fuels. With gasoline prices skyrocketing, consumers are becoming more interested in other ways to power their transportation needs. Yet, due to popular movies and long-held myths, many people are concerned that hydrogen fuel has a high propensity to catch on fire and explode. Likewise, many fuel station owners wonder, “is hydrogen safe to store onsite?” The truth is that many of those concerns are based on long-held misconceptions and false information.
First, it’s important to note that hydrogen is one of our most common elements. Represented by the letter “H” on the periodic table, hydrogen is found in many natural substances, most notably water (H2O). To make hydrogen gas, the O, or oxygen, is removed from each molecule of water, leaving the two hydrogen atoms (H2) stuck together. These two molecules share one proton and one electron, which gives them a flammable quality. However, other substances like gasoline and diesel are also explosive.
It’s essential to note hydrogen has some characteristics which make it safer than gasoline and diesel. When stored in an industry-approved tank, you’ll have more peace of mind regarding the safety of your fuel station.
What qualities make hydrogen safe to store onsite?
- Hydrogen isn’t a toxic chemical. It’s hydrogen–a commonly occurring element! If you leak hydrogen into the environment, it evaporates into the air and naturally dissipates. It does not harm or contaminate the environment. It does not threaten the health of humans or wildlife. On the other hand, gasoline and diesel spills have routinely resulted in extensive environmental disasters and required complex clean-up programs.
- Hydrogen is light. Hydrogen is 14 times lighter than air, so it immediately and quickly rises when released from a tank. In fact, hydrogen is 57 times lighter than gasoline vapor. Because of how quickly it rises through the atmosphere, it is almost impossible to ignite leaked hydrogen at the ground level. On the other hand, it’s easy to ignite spilled gasoline or diesel.
- Hydrogen is cool. Hydrogen has a lower radiant heat than gasoline, meaning it is not nearly as hot when it burns. Because of this, there is less risk of burning hydrogen and creating secondary fires.
- Hydrogen needs more oxygen to explode. Fire requires oxygen, and different materials require different amounts of it. Hydrogen requires an oxygen concentration between 18% and 59% to explode. On the other hand, gasoline only requires 1% to 3%. Normal ambient air has an oxygen concentration of about 20%–the bare minimum to support a hydrogen-fueled flame at all. In a tank, the concentration is much less.
Another way to limit your exposure to risks associated with stored fuels is to produce hydrogen fuel onsite.
PowerTap Hydrogen allows fuel station owners to produce hydrogen fuel onsite, with a production unit taking up less than 1,000 square feet of space. Our units can produce over 1,250 kg of pure hydrogen each day using only city water, natural gas, and electricity. With PowerTap Hydrogen, it’s possible to produce fuel at less than $2 per kilogram–that’s about $9 less than purchasing hydrogen fuel from a wholesaler or producing it onsite via alternative solutions.
If you’re interested in diversifying your current product mix or would like to begin a journey in the exciting future of alternative energy solutions, contact our team at PowerTap Hydrogen today. We’d love to show you how easy it is to be a part of the hydrogen fuel revolution.