SPECIAL TOPIC : Hydrogen & Renewable Energy
Selecting the Right Hydrogen Valves for the Transportation Sector
If the proper components are selected , hydrogen may well be the fuel that drives transportation in the future . By Chuck Hayes , Principal Applications Engineer for Clean Energy – Swagelok
As the world moves away from traditional internal combustion engines over concerns about what carbon emissions are doing to the planet , it must find a more environmentally friendly method of powering its vehicles . One of the most promising options is hydrogen , which can be safe , cost-effective , practical , and sustainable . To enable its widespread adoption , fluid systems for hydrogen vehicles and their refueling infrastructure must be constructed using only the highest quality materials . Components in these systems must be leak tight throughout and durable enough to last for years and possibly decades , and not all components can deliver such performance .
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The nature of hydrogen presents its challenges and requires the use of components that meet specific performance standards . One particularly important category of components is the valves that control the flow of hydrogen within a vehicle and throughout a refueling system . Choosing the most effective valves is critical to ensuring these applications work effectively and protect end-users in the process .
Advantages and Challenges of H 2 Fuel Systems
Hydrogen is less hazardous than other fuels because it is non-toxic and , if handled properly , is not as volatile as other compounds . In addition , hydrogen-fueled vehicles are designed to incorporate safety equipment and protocols so they provide safe and reliable performance . Unlike traditional gasoline , hydrogen is so light that it will usually rise and disperse rapidly if leaked , making the risk of ground-level ignition much lower .
Furthermore , hydrogen can be produced much more sustainably than comparable fossil fuels . The hydrogen expended in a fuel cell does not emit carbon dioxide or other byproducts . Its sole outputs are energy and pure water , which will consequently reduce the amount of greenhouse gas generated globally and effectively help combat global climate change . However , despite all these advantages over carbon-based fuels , hydrogen presents challenges for vehicle and refueling station manufacturers .
Hydrogen molecules within on-vehicle or refueling equipment are extremely tiny and under varying degrees of pressure . Therefore , the importance of leaktight performance from all components throughout the entire system is critical . If hydrogen gas escapes , it could pose a potential safety risk for end users , particularly during refueling . In addition , leaks from vehicles or storage systems make the entire process less efficient .
Lower-quality stainless steel components may allow hydrogen molecules under pressure to diffuse into them , causing a phenomenon called hydrogen embrittlement . If left unchecked , hydrogen embrittlement can accelerate the spread of fissures and weaken components , allowing potential leaks over the service life of the equipment .
Hydrogen Valves Must Perform
Given the critical role of valves in a fluid system , careful consideration must be given to meeting the specifications of the application . When specifying valves for a hydrogen fuel system , operators must take the following into account :
• Pressure : To achieve the desired density , hydrogen must be compressed in on-vehicle , distribution , and refueling storage tanks at 350-700 bar .
• Stress and vibration : Systems must be able to withstand fast speeds , bumpy surfaces , and a variety of environmental factors such as inclement weather , corrosive substances , and changes in temperature .
• Safety : Refueling stations must be safely operable by the average end user .
• Maintenance : Technicians must be able to easily and quickly install and remake leak-tight joints during servicing .
These criteria must be applied to all hydrogen valves to ensure they always perform at the highest possible levels . Leak-tight performance at the connection , shut-off , or regulation points is essential throughout on-vehicle and refueling systems . Valves used in hydrogen fuel systems must be able to handle all the challenging operating conditions they may face , depending on the specific application and type .
14 Valve World Americas | March 2023 • www . valve-world-americas . net