On the Relationship between Safety and Sustainability in the Hydrogen Economy

Hydrogen is a highly energy-intensive fuel, frequently used as rocket fuel, but numerous technical challenges prevent the creation of a large-scale hydrogen economy. These include the difficulty of developing long-term storage, pipelines and engine equipment; a relative lack of off-the-shelf engine technology that can currently run safely on hydrogen; safety concerns regarding the high reactivity of hydrogen fuel with oxygen in ambient air; the expense of producing it by electrolysis; and a lack of efficient photochemical water splitting technology. Hydrogen can also react in a fuel cell, which efficiently produces electricity in a process which is the reverse of electrolysis of water.

Nevertheless, the hydrogen economy is slowly developing as a part of the effort towards decarbonization of industrial operations, and hence is regarded as a step towards a more sustainable mode of operation. The present project will investigate the relationship between safety and sustainability principles that may inhere in the hydrogen economy, and hence the strategy needed in order to satisfy both the requirements simultaneously. The approach will involve the establishment of a framework to study the challenges imposed by both the above aspects, and development of illustrative case studies to demonstrate the application of the framework.

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