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Ensuring the safety of hydrogen vehicles in tunnels and confined spaces


As transport decarbonises to meet global net zero targets, we will see an increasing number of hydrogen-powered vehicles and trains on our highways and railways.

To preserve public and environmental safety, particularly in confined spaces such as tunnels, any risks arising from hydrogen vehicles and trains need to be the same or lower than they currently are for fossil fuel transport.

As such, unified regulations, codes and standards (RCSs) regarding hydrogen vehicles and trains need to be established.

How is HSE helping?

HSE Research and Consultancy is part of a carefully built consortium of academia, emergency services, research and standard development organisations selected to work on HyTunnel, an EU-funded project that has been established to perform pre-normative research into the safety of hydrogen-driven transport in tunnels and similar confined spaces.

Each partner will be contributing their extensive experience from work on hydrogen safety as well as safety in tunnels and other confined spaces.

Working together, they will critically analyse the hazards, associated risks and safety measures for hydrogen vehicles in confined spaces.

What will we find out?

HSE Research and Consultancy is generating experimental data in support of the project's various work packages, using facilities at its Science and Research Centre.

Our scientists and engineers will be designing and conducting experimental research examining the effect of mitigation systems on hydrogen release and dispersion in confined spaces. We will also be looking at the thermal and pressure effects of hydrogen jet fires on the structural integrity of materials. Finally, we will be looking to prevent or mitigate hydrogen explosions by improving our fundamental understanding of the associated hazards in tunnels and similar confined spaces.

The results of our research will be collated with the work of the other consortium partners to draw up recommendations for optimising tunnel safety and emergency response, as well as revising RCSs. The project will contribute to public safety and the prevention of damage to property and the environment.

You can read more about HyTunnel, the consortium partners and full details about each work package on the HyTunnel website.

Read about the other projects we are supporting to enable a Safe Net Zero.

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