Hydrogen

What is Hydrogen?

Hydrogen (H2) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and flammable gaseous substance that is the simplest member of the family of chemical elements. It is produced in many ways from different source, including fossil fuels, water, and biomass. The most common methods are steam methane reforming and electrolysis.

Other methods of Hydrogen production include:

  • Autothermic reforming: reacts methane with oxygen, carbon dioxide, or steam to produce hydrogen
  • Biomass gasification: Uses the energy in biomass to release hydrogen from its molecular structure
  • Methane pyrolysis: Another method of hydrogen production
  • Extracting underground hydrogen: Can also be used to produce hydrogen
  • Biological processes: Microorganisms like bacteria and algae can also produce hydrogen

Hazards of Hydrogen Gas

Because Hydrogen is colorless, odorless, and tasteless it cannot be detected by the human eye. It can also cause fires and explosions and when in too high of concentrations create serious injury and negative health effects. If Hydrogen is inhaled or comes in contact with skin or eyes it can cause:

  • Suffocation
  • Seizures
  • Burns and Frostbite
  • Hydrogen Embrittlement

What is the NFPA Standard for Hydrogen?

Section 10.4. 4.1 of NFPA 55 states that hydrogen systems of less than 3,500 scf. and greater than the MAQ, where located inside buildings, are to be located in the building so that the system will be as follows: 1. 25 ft. from open flames and other sources of ignition.

Is a Hydrogen fuel cell safe to use?

Fuel cells are designed to minimize the risk of leaks by using high-strength materials and multiple layers of protection. Like hydrogen gas, hydrogen fuel cells must be handled and stored properly to minimize the risk of fire or explosion. The fuel cells must be kept in well-ventilated areas to prevent the buildup of hydrogen gas, and proper safety procedures must be followed during maintenance and repair.

In general, hydrogen fuel cells can be used safely when proper safety measures are taken, but like any other technology, care must be taken in handling, storage, and maintenance to minimize risks.

Hydrogen Gas Safety Resources

CO2Meter provides general guidance regarding the hazards associated with hydrogen gas, exposure, and code regulations. Below we provide a free, downloadable Hydrogen gas safety poster that can be downloaded to ensure gas safety in the field.

What is the use of a Hydrogen Gas Detector?

A hydrogen gas detector can detect the presence of hydrogen. They contain micro-fabricated point-contact hydrogen sensors and are used to locate hydrogen leaks. They are considered low-cost, compact, durable, and easy to maintain as compared to conventional gas detecting instruments.

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