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Energy Transition Technology Comes With New Process Safety Challenges and Risks


This paper intends to give an impression of new technologies and processes that are in development for application to achieve decarbonization, and about which less or no experience on associated hazards exists in the process industry. More or less an exception is hydrogen technology because its hazards are relatively known and there is industry experience in handling it safely, but problems will arise when it is produced, stored, and distributed on a large scale. So, when its use spreads to communities and it becomes as common as natural gas now, measures to control the risks will be needed. And even with hydrogen, surprise findings have been shown lately, e.g., its BLEVE behavior when in a liquified form stored in a vessel heated externally. Substitutes for hydrogen are not without hazard concern either. The paper will further consider the hazards of energy storage in batteries and the problems to get those hazards under control. Relatively much attention will be paid to the electrification of the process industry. Many new processes are being researched, which given green energy, will be beneficial to reduce greenhouse gases and enhance sustainability, but of which hazards are rather unknown. Therefore, as last chapter the developments with respect to the concept of hazard identification and scenario definition will be considered in quite detail. Improvements in that respect are also being possible due to the digitization of the industry and the availability of data and considering the entire life cycle, all facilitated by the data model standard ISO 15926 with the scope of integration of life-cycle data for process plants including oil and gas production facilities. Conclusion is that the new technologies and processes entail new process and personal hazards, and that much effort is going into renewal but safety analyses are scarce. Right in a period of process renewal, attention should be focused on possibilities to implement inherently safer design.

Funding source: This work was in part funded by INAIL within the framework of the call BRIC/2021/ID3 (Project DRIVERS).
Related subjects: Safety
Countries: Italy ; United States

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