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Hydrogen Piping Systems: Mitigating Pitfalls by Design

By W. M. (Bill) Huitt |

This overview presents guidance for the safe design of piping systems that are used for the distribution of hydrogen gas Hydrogen gas is a very volatile fluid that has a high propensity to leak. This is a very dangerous and lethal combination of tendencies, a volatile fluid that is difficult to contain. These are tendencies that need to be taken into consideration when selecting material, gasketing and sealing, as well as the design characteristics of such a system. These topics regarding H 2 gas distribution are the focus of this discussion, not the manufacture of H2, H2 in its liquid state, nor slush H2 (see sidebar,  at right).   Properties of H2 The following are a few key points of hydrogen gas and H2-air mixtures that are helpful to know. There are two modes in which H2 gas will burn: by deflagration and by detonation. Deflagration. Deflagration is the ordinary mode of burning in which the flame travels through the mixture at subsonic speeds. As an example, this happens when a free cloud of H 2 -air mixture is ignited by a small ignition source. In such a case the flame will travel at a rate anywhere from ten to several hundred feet per second. The rapid expansion of hot gases produces a pressure wave whose force…
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