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Safety and Operations of Hydrogen Fuel Infrastructure in Northern Climates : A Collaborative Complex Systems Approach
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    This project examined the safety and operation of hydrogen (H2) fueling system infrastructure in northern climates. A multidisciplinary team lead by the University of Vermont (UVM), combined with investigators from Zhejiang and Tsinghua Universities in China and the nonprofit Burlington, VT-based energy research firm eVermont addressed this multifaceted problem. As testbeds for some of the research Zhejiang University operated the first H2 refueling station in China, and eVermont operated one of the only a handful of H2 refueling stations in northern climates in North America. The research foci included the development of technologies associated with the safety of hydrogen fuel storage, especially high-pressure H2 fuel storage; development of tools for fighting invisible-flame H2 fires; an examination of the organizational structure of safety codes surrounding the use of H2; and an investigation of the performance of a wind-to-wheels H2 production, storage and fueling facility in Burlington, VT. Specific outcomes include: 1. Development of self-sealing tank technologies that may have applicability to H2 fuel storage and other applications; 2. Development of methods of assessing the integrity of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite high-pressure on-vehicle H2 storage vessels using vibration modal analysis; 3. Testing of fatigue life from multiple refill cycles on FRP fuel tanks; 4. Developing physical models and testing the performance of fast-fueling techniques for vehicles at refueling stations; 5. Invention of passive-optic imaging systems for fighting invisible-flame H2 fires; 6. Examination of organization and complexity of H2 safety codes using network modeling techniques; and 7. Measured the performance of a wind-to-wheels H2 production, storage and fueling facility. The importance of H2 fuel safety practices was emphasized by an explosion at the Rochester, NY airport H2 ground vehicle fueling station on August 26, 2010. Outcomes from this research include 9 refereed journal publications (approved and pending), 15 conference publications and presentations, 2 patent disclosures and one trade journal publication. Attached as appendices are final project reports from the Zhejiang and Tsinghua University, and eVermont subcontracts.
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