What is it about?

One of the major issues affecting the acceptance of hydrogen for public use is the safety of hydrogen installations (production and storage units), as well as its applications (i.e. as vehicle fuel or home use). The hazards associated with the use of hydrogen can be characterized as physiological (frostbite and asphyxiation), physical (component failures and embrittlement) and chemical (burning or explosion), the primary hazard being inadvertently producing a flammable or explosive mixture with air. In recent works, theoretical and computational safety comparisons between hydrogen and other fuels, do not allow a clear point of view for the safest one to be concluded. Indeed, in the past, there were circumstances that hydrogen applications gave rise to severe accidents with significant economic and societal cost, affirming the need of augmented safety measures wherever hydrogen is handled.

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Why is it important?

The need for safety measures should be pointed out when loss prevention and public safety are concerned. This supposes the knowledge of potential hazards plus the determination of risk zones around the installations handling hydrogen.


Hydrogen is considered one of the most promising fuels for generalized use in the future, mainly because it is an energy-efficient, low-polluting and renewable fuel. Hydrogen is versatile and clean, and aiming at environmental benefits, the production of hydrogen from renewable energy sources such as biomass, wind, solar, and nuclear is under consideration. Yet, discussion of potential problems that widespread use of hydrogen might bring, such as whale oil and petroleum before it, is missing. The identification and control of potential adverse consequences is an ethical requirement whenever any new technology is introduced, and certainly in the hydrogen case with such world-influencing potential

Professor Fotis Rigas
National Technical University of Athens

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This page is a summary of: Hydrogen Safety, July 2008, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1201/9781420045772.ch16.
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