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Vented Confined Explosions Involving Methane-Hydrogen Mixtures

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B.J. Lowesmith; C. Mumby; G. Hankinson; J.S. Puttock


The EC funded Naturalhy project is assessing the potential for using the existing gas infrastructure for conveying hydrogen as a mixture with natural gas (methane). The hydrogen could then be removed at a point of use or the natural gas/hydrogen mixture could be burned in gas fired appliances thereby providing reduced carbon emissions compared to natural gas. As part of the project, the impact on thesafety of the gas system resulting from the addition of hydrogen is being assessed. A release of a natural gas/hydrogen mixture within a vented enclosure (such as an industrial housing of plant and equipment) could result in a flammable mixture being formed and ignited. Due to the different properties of hydrogen, the resulting explosion may be more severe for natural gas/hydrogen mixtures compared to natural gas. Therefore, a series of large scale explosion experiments involving methane/hydrogen mixtures has been conducted in a 69.3 m3 enclosure in order to assess the effect of different hydrogen concentrations on the resulting explosion overpressures. The results showed that adding up to 20%2by volume of hydrogen to the methane resulted in a small increase in explosion flame speeds and overpressures. However, a significant increase was observed when 50%2hydrogen was added. For the vented confined explosions studied, it was also observed that the addition of obstacles within the enclosure, representing congestion caused by equipment and pipework, etc, increased flame speeds and overpressures above the levels measured in an empty enclosure. Predictions of the explosion overpressure and flame speed were also made using a modified version of the Shell Global Solutions model, SCOPE. The modifications included changes to the burning velocity and other physical properties of methane/hydrogen mixtures. Comparisons with the experimental data showed generally good agreement.

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