Type of Publication
Year of Publication
2007
Authors
C.D. Barley; K. Gawlik; J. Ohi; R. Hewett
Abstract

When hydrogen gas is used or stored within a building, as with a hydrogen-powered vehicle parked ina residential garage, any leakage of unignited H2 will mix with indoor air and may form a flammablemixture. One approach to safety engineering relies on buoyancy-driven, passive ventilation of H2from the building through vents to the outside. To discover relationships between design variables,we combine two types of analysis: (1) a simplified, 1-D, steady-state analysis of buoyancy-drivenventilation and (2) CFD modeling, using FLUENT 6.3. The simplified model yields a closed-formexpression relating the H2 concentration to vent area, height, and discharge coefficient; leakage rate;and a stratification factor. The CFD modeling includes 3-D geometry; H2 cloud formation; diffusion,momentum, convection, and thermal effects; and transient response. We modeled a typical residentialtwo-car garage, with 5 kg of H2 stored in a fuel tank; leakage rates of 5.9 to 82 L/min (tank dischargetimes of 12 hours to 1 week); a variety of vent sizes and heights; and both isothermal and non-isothermal conditions. This modeling indicates a range of the stratification factor needed to apply thesimplified model for vent sizing, as well as a more complete understanding of the dynamics of H2movement within the building. A significant thermal effect occurs when outdoor temperature ishigher than indoor temperature, so that thermocirculation opposes the buoyancy-driven ventilation ofH2. This circumstance leads to higher concentrations of H2 in the building, relative to an isothermalcase. In an unconditioned space, such as a residential garage, this effect depends on the thermalcoupling of indoor air to outdoor air, the ground (under a concrete slab floor), and an adjacentconditioned space, in addition to temperatures. We use CFD modeling to explore the magnitude ofthis effect under rather extreme conditions.

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