Loughborough University
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Predictions of explosions and fires of natural gas/hydrogen mixtures for hazard assessment

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posted on 2010-06-17, 15:09 authored by Christopher Mumby
The work presented in this thesis was undertaken as part of the safety work package of the NATURALHY project which was an integrated project funded by the European Commission (EC) within the sixth framework programme. The purpose of the NATURALHY project was to investigate the feasibility of using existing natural gas infrastructure to assist a transition to a hydrogen based economy by transporting hydrogen from its place of production to its place of use as a mixture of natural gas and hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be extracted from the mixture for use in fuel cells or the mixture used directly in conventional combustion devices. The research presented in this thesis focused on predicting the consequences of explosions and fires involving natural gas and hydrogen mixtures, using engineering type mathematical models typical of those used by the gas industry for risk assessment purposes. The first part of the thesis concentrated on modifying existing models that had been developed to predict confined vented and unconfined vapour cloud explosions involving natural gas. Three geometries were studied: a confined vented enclosure, an unconfined cubical region of congestion and an unconfined high aspect ratio region of congestion. The modifications made to the models were aimed at accounting for the different characteristics of a natural gas/hydrogen mixture compared to natural gas. Experimental data for the laminar burning velocity of methane/hydrogen mixtures was obtained within the safety work package. For practical reasons, this experimental work was carried at an elevated temperature. Predictions from kinetic modelling were employed to convert this information for use in models predicting explosions at ambient temperature. For confined vented explosions a model developed by Shell (SCOPE) was used and modified by adding new laminar burning velocity and Markstein number data relevant to the gas compositions studied. For vapour cloud explosions in a cubical region of congestion, two models were used. The first model was developed by Shell (CAM2), and was applied using the new laminar burning velocity and other composition specific properties. The second model was based on a model provided by GL Services and was modified by generalising the flame speed model so that any natural gas/hydrogen mixture could be simulated. For vapour cloud explosions in an unconfined high aspect ratio region of congestion, a model from GL Services was used. Modifications were made to the modelling of flame speed so that it could be applied to different fuel compositions, equivalence ratios and the initial flame speed entering the congested region. Predictions from the modified explosion models were compared with large scale experimental data obtained within the safety work package. Generally, (apart from where continuously accelerating flames were produced), satisfactory agreement was achieved. This demonstrated that the modified models could be used, in many cases, for risk assessment purposes for explosions involving natural gas/hydrogen mixtures. The second part of thesis concentrated on predicting the incident thermal radiation from high pressure jet fires and pipelines fires involving natural gas/hydrogen mixtures. The approach taken was to modify existing models, developed for natural gas. For jet fires three models were used. Fuel specific input parameters were derived and the predictions of flame length and incident radiation compared with large scale experimental data. For pipeline fires a model was developed using a multi-point source approach for the radiation emitted by the fire and a correlation for flame length. Again predictions were compared with large scale experimental data. For both types of fire, satisfactory predictions of the flame length and incident radiation were obtained for natural gas and mixtures of natural gas and hydrogen containing approximately 25% hydrogen.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Chemical Engineering


© Christopher Mumby

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en