RP1.4-10 Assessment of hydrogen flame visibility

Executive Summary

Identification of natural gas (NG) is widely understood by the broad community, providing key safety features that can be relied upon to mitigate the risk of unintended releases escalating to major incidents. Unburned NG is commonly detected by odour, as a result of the odourant(s) that are added to the distribution network. When NG burns it has a distinctive yellow and/or blue colouration, giving a visual indication of the presence of a flame.

When assessing the suitability of hydrogen as a replacement for NG in domestic settings, it is important to ensure that key safety features can be relied upon in an equivalent and familiar manner to NG. In contrast to NG, hydrogen does not naturally exhibit a distinctive and familiar flame colour when it burns; hence, visible identification of hydrogen in a domestic consumer setting may not be a feature that can be relied upon in these applications.

The poorly understood nature of hydrogen flame visibility in a range of conditions likely to be encountered by residential customers will be important for consumer acceptance and potentially represents a critical safety barrier. This project will inform industry by providing an improved understanding of the factors which affect hydrogen flame visibility and how this translates to real-world conditions.

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Commencement / End Date 1/2024 to
Outcomes / Impact

The project will seek to identify limiting conditions which influence hydrogen flame visibility under real-world conditions, and to what extent the environmental aspects affect the visibility. The intended outcome of the project will identify and summarise which variables impact flame colour, and which combination of variables leads to the best outcome for flame colour for aesthetic purposes or where a visible flame could be considered a safety control measure. Potential techniques/solutions for achieving this optimal combination of variables to improve flame visibility in practice will also be provided. It should be noted, however, that the deliberate introduction of a “colourant” is not a technique/solution to be considered in the scope of this project.

Partners University of Adelaide, Enscope, Energy Safe Victoria, Electrolux, AGIA
Research Contact

Jeremy Harris