Simulation Tool Boosts Hydrogen Safety
The Research Council of Norway is highlighting the significant role of computer simulation in improving hydrogen safety. With funding from the Research Council, experts from the Norway-based Firm, GexCon, have been studying the potentially explosive situation of hydrogen leaks.
Gexcon has developed a software tool, called FLACS, that relies on the principles of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to model the hydrogen dispersal process. While originally developed for natural gas modelling, FLACS, which stands for FLame ACceleration Simulator, has been retooled by the company to show "what happens when hydrogen is released, how the gas disperses, and what will happen if it is ignited."
Initial testing shows that the simulator is able to accurately predict the outcomes of hydrogen gas leaks. In fact, the FLACS model predictions were a near perfect match for real-world dispersal and ignition experiments conducted at a California-based facility.
Roald Hansen, Product Director at GexCon, reports on the results:
"We have customised FLACS to work just as well for hydrogen as it does for natural gas, even though the two gases have completely different properties."
When the simulations themselves are dangerous, virtual experiments become even more critical, as Hansen explains:
"Hydrogen gas and the flames from ignited hydrogen are invisible. So there is a risk that people could inadvertently walk straight into the fire. A solution using virtual reality can provide a better picture of critical factors like this."
Increasing hydrogen safety is also important to the industry's livelihood, as Stian Nygaard, adviser in the Research Council's RENERGI program, points out:
"Good results like this in the area of safety are essential for gaining acceptance for the widespread use of hydrogen in the transport sector. It's also a plus for a Norwegian product to gain such a strong international foothold."