Hydrogen bus fire brings concerns


The fire in Arriva’s hydrogen bus on October 28 gives Herman Wilmer, a public transportation adviser, real concern.

The use of hydrogen is currently being found in part. “The hydrogen industry has a powerful lobby. The inclination to exaggerate the advantages (there are many stakeholders) while downplaying the hazards is a significant danger.”

The bus was delivered on Monday, November 25, was driven on Wednesday and was returned to the workshop on Thursday, when technicians were given an explanation of how the hydrogen bus operates. A fire broke out shortly after, and the media covered it widely. The details will be revealed at a later date, but the tragedy does serve as a wake-up call. The awareness that hydrogen isn’t just a ‘thing,’ no matter how beneficial it is. Also, from a liability standpoint.

Although hydrogen is a detectable gas, it does not have the same odor as compressed natural gas (CNG). Problems are less likely to be recognized as a result. In consultation with the German fire brigade, the German public transport umbrella organization VDV (Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen) has advised public transportation companies to allow loading in the open air and only allow covered parking if the roof is automatically opened upon detection of a hydrogen leak. HHA Hamburg and KVG Cologne, two German public transportation providers that have bought hydrogen buses, rigorously adhere to this.

There is no nationally developed hydrogen public transportation guideline in the Netherlands. However, in Amsterdam, where the GVB got the requisite information through a test using hydrogen buses as part of the European CUTE project, the GVB gained the necessary knowledge (Clean Urban Transport in Europe). Special safeguards were adopted in cooperation with the Amsterdam-Amstelland fire department, which were never essential for diesel buses.

Because it is located as far away from residential structures as feasible, the North garage was chosen to store the hydrogen buses. A customized shed has been built with roof windows that open automatically. When the alarm was triggered, the shutters quickly opened. Switches for lights and equipment in the hall were covered in particular since escaping hydrogen that couldn’t escape right away merely needed a spark to ignite. The tank installation was set out outside in the open.

Arnhem has its own set of restrictions. Because of the risk of escaping gas igniting, the fire department in Arnhem decided that CNG buses could neither stop nor store beneath trolley wires in the covered bus station at Arnhem Central or under the permanent roof of the depot. This connection has been extended to hydrogen buses, which are currently prohibited from entering the Arnhem bus station and depot under the permanent roof. The extent to which this rule in the covered bus station can be relaxed is subject to discussion between the municipality and the Midden-Gelderland fire department.

Both for public transportation firms and for safety zones, the use of hydrogen is still mostly unknown. The Dutch fire departments have methods in place for dealing with a hydrogen bus accident. They do it by following the Institute for Physical Safety’s principles and recommendations (IFV). The municipality is in charge of permits and can decide how hydrogen buses should be housed, what is permissible, and so on. They also follow the IFV’s rules and recommendations. That is a crucial factor to remember. Before acquiring a hydrogen bus, it is important to contact both the safety region and the municipality. I believe that safety guidance is of the utmost importance.

Tunnels are a distinct point of interest. When traffic is flowing smoothly, the fire department seems unconcerned about a hydrogen bus with a leaky tank: leaking diesel is far more damaging. However, if traffic delays – or even worse – downtime – develop in a tunnel, a hydrogen leak might put the tunnel in jeopardy. The fire department will not enter the tunnel if there is a hydrogen leak that turns into a fire. There has yet to be a viable solution for such a circumstance.

As a result, the tunnel management authority is bound by the following provisions of Article 7.1 of the Additional Road Tunnel Safety Regulations Act (Act of 1-1-2020): “After consulting with the safety officer and the mayor of the municipality or each of the municipalities in which the tunnel is located, the tunnel manager develops a safety management plan that includes, at a minimum, tunnel management organization, coordination of this management with emergency services, traffic management, conservation activities, and disaster management or other events in or near a tunnel that could endanger h An study of accident possibilities must also be included in the strategy.

Ministerial regulation establishes additional restrictions for the content of the safety management plan as well as the process for conducting accident scenario analysis. It is possible to remove the analysis mentioned in the third phrase by explaining reasons.

This law’s article 7.2 stipulates the following: “After consulting with the safety officer and the mayor of the municipality or each of the municipalities in which the tunnel is located, the tunnel manager adapts the safety management plan referred to in the first paragraph, to the extent necessary, to the changed situation.

In summary, the road or tunnel management is responsible, as are the safety services, and first and foremost, the fire department.

You might be wondering why the H2 safety policy for public transportation in Germany is centralized whereas it is decentralized in the Netherlands. The Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen has an unquestionable position in Germany, both as an authoritative information center and as an advocate. In the Netherlands, there is no such attitude: here is the response to the axis between lobbying and the desire to be at the forefront. In both nations, the hydrogen industry has a powerful lobby.

The inclination to praise the advantages (many interests are at stake) while downplaying the hazards is a serious danger. In Germany, the VDV can rely on significant foresight, which successfully filters out many dubious impressions in market conversations. The majority of managers in the Dutch public transportation industry and contracting authorities are caught between the purchase of concessions and the energy transition. They frequently lack the latter’s competence. As a result, they become reliant on consultants who frequently have a commercial motive.

Arnes Biogradlija
Creative Content Director at EnergyNews.Biz

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