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Rethinking "BELVE Explosion" After Liquid Hydrogen Storage Tank Rupture in a Fire


The underlying physical mechanisms leading to the generation of blast waves after liquid hydrogen (LH2) storage tank rupture in a fire are not yet fully understood. This makes it difficult to develop predictive models and validate them against a very limited number of experiments. This study aims at the development of a CFD model able to predict maximum pressure in the blast wave after the LH2 storage tank rupture in a fire. The performed critical review of previous works and the thorough numerical analysis of BMW experiments (LH2 storage pressure in the range 2.0e11.3 bar abs) allowed us to conclude that the maximum pressure in the blast wave is generated by gaseous phase starting shock enhanced by combustion reaction of hydrogen at the contact surface with heated by the shock air. The boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion (BLEVE) pressure peak follows the gaseous phase blast and is smaller in amplitude. The CFD model validated recently against high-pressure hydrogen storage tank rupture in fire experiments is essentially updated in this study to account for cryogenic conditions of LH2 storage. The simulation results provided insight into the blast wave and combustion dynamics, demonstrating that combustion at the contact surface contributes significantly to the generated blast wave, increasing the overpressure at 3 m from the tank up to 5 times. The developed CFD model can be used as a contemporary tool for hydrogen safety engineering, e.g. for assessment of hazard distances from LH2 storage.

Funding source: This research has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (now Clean Hydrogen Partnership) under grant agreement No 779613 (PRESLHY). The JU receives support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Norway, Switzerland. The authors would like to acknowledge EPSRC for funding the project Kelvin-2 “Tier 2 High-Performance Computing Services” (EP/T022175/1) and EPSRC SUPERGEN H2FC Hub (EP/J016454/1, EP/P024807/1), and Innovate UK for funding the project “Northern Ireland Green Seas” (ID: 397841).
Related subjects: Safety
Countries: United Kingdom

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