Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Numerical Modelling of Liquid Hydrogen Tanks Performance During Fire Engulfment

Alice Schiaroli1,2,a,b, Giordano Emrys Scarponi1,c, Valerio Cozzani1,d and Federico Ustolin2,e

1Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering, University of Bologna, Italy.

2Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, NTNU, Norway.


The incumbent need to tackle global warming draws attention to potential zero-emission energy solutions. Liquid hydrogen (LH2) is a carbon-free energy carrier, and it is then foreseen to play a vital role in the decarbonization process of the global transportation sector, which is proved to be one of the most impactful in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) production. Despite the benefits of LH2 (e.g., reduced storage space, high energy density), many safety concerns arise from its application. From a safety standpoint, the exposure of a cryogenic tank to an external fire is the worst-case scenario that can result into severe consequences.

In the present study, a computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis is carried out to investigate the behaviour of a cryogenic hydrogen storage tank in external fire conditions. The worst-case scenario when the tank is already pressurized due to the boil-off formation and the safety valve is not active due to failure is simulated by means of the developed model. The results of the analysis are compared with the outcomes of an analytical model previously developed for the same purpose and validated with available experimental data. The CFD model used in this work is able to predict the response of the vessel when the hydrogen content is in both subcritical and supercritical conditions and provides valuable information for the safety assessment of LH2 applications.

Keywords: Liquid hydrogen, Hydrogen safety, External fire, CFD, Supercritical, Pressure build-up, Time to failure.

Download PDF