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Detection Systems for Reducing the Risk of Hydrogen Fires

By Michael J. Hosch and Aaron Paterson |

Today’s detection equipment can provide early sensing of H2 gas and flames, provide alarm information to a fire- and gas-safety system controller to initiate mitigating measures, and integrate with process control to further minimize H2-fire risk Hydrogen is the most flammable element on earth [1]. However, this colorless, odorless and tasteless substance rarely exists in its pure form. Instead, it normally combines with other elements, in water molecules, for example, or in industrial compounds. However, H2 is widely used in the chemical process industries (CPI, Figure 1). For example, in the chemical industry, it is an important component in the production of polymers and ammonia for fertilizers. In petroleum refining, it is used in the reforming process for producing high-grade gasoline, as well as in removing sulfur compounds from petroleum so they will not poison vehicle catalytic converters [2]. Figure 1. Hydrogen is widely used throughout the chemical process industries[/caption] According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (www.energy.gov/eere), 10 million metric tons of H2 are produced in the U.S. annually [3]. While playing an indispensable role in many processes, H2 also…
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