Intentional Failure of a 5000 psig Hydrogen Cylinder Installed in an SUV Without Standard Required Safety Devices 2007-01-0431
A vehicle's gasoline fuel tank was removed and replaced with a 5,000-psig, Type-III, aluminum-lined hydrogen cylinder. High-pressure cylinders are typically installed with a thermally-activated pressure relief device (PRD) designed to safely vent the contents of the cylinder in the event of accidental exposure to fire. The objective of this research was to assess the results of a catastrophic failure in the event that a PRD were ineffective. Therefore, no PRD was installed on the vehicle to ensure cylinder failure would occur.
The cylinder was pressurized and exposed to a propane bonfire in order to simulate the occurrence of a gasoline pool fire on the underside of the vehicle. Measurements included temperature and carbon monoxide concentration inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle to evaluate tenability. Measurements on the exterior of the vehicle included blast wave pressures. Documentation included standard, infrared, and high-speed video.
The interior of the vehicle became untenable due to high temperature and carbon monoxide concentration just after 4 minutes into the test. However, this was a result of the bonfire source, not the hydrogen cylinder. Catastrophic failure occurred in approximately 12 min, severely damaging the remains of the burnt vehicle well after its interior had become untenable.