Energy is poised to be one of the hottest topics of the decade, and it’s important to know how and where different forms of energy are being utilized. Many companies are beginning to switch from backup batteries and electrical generators to longer-lasting, lower-maintenance energy sources like hydrogen fuel cells.
At ChemTec, we offer cutting-edge equipment and products — like our line of Excess Flow Valves — that contribute to safer, faster and greener energy across industries like chemical, refining, electronics, and pharmaceuticals. Learn more about how hydrogen fuel cells are revolutionizing the energy industry.
How Do Hydrogen Fuel Cells Work?
Hydrogen fuel cells are just one of many alternative energy sources that offer a comprehensive list of benefits. A hydrogen fuel cell is comparable to a battery in that it can produce electricity without relying on combustion or emissions. But unlike batteries, fuel cells don’t need to be recharged, as long as they have access to a source of hydrogen and oxygen.
Because proper battery disposal can be expensive, having a renewable, non-combustion energy source can cut down on manufacturing and overhead costs. And as the most abundant element on earth, hydrogen can be produced through dozens of different methods and applications.
Benefits of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to solve some of the biggest problems in energy, from commercial buildings to transportation. These fuel cells can be used in a broad range of applications, from powering cars and other vehicles to entire city blocks.
Compared to conventional gasoline vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can even reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being produced. If the hydrogen is produced by natural gas, it can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to half. If it’s produced by renewable energy like wind or solar, it can reduce emissions by up to 90 percent.
But the benefits of hydrogen go even deeper. Hydrogen allows for energy independence. It can be locally produced on the spot, even in hard-to-reach or remote areas, decreasing reliance on imported energy sources. Plus, it’s actually safer than gasoline and natural gas.
ChemTec’s Role in Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Safety Considerations for Hydrogen Fuel
Despite the benefits of hydrogen, concerns exist regarding its flammability. Hydrogen fuel cells are also highly volatile, so it’s crucial for companies and businesses that rely on them to take proper precautions.
Every U.S. facility that handles hydrogen must conform to the “Hydrogen Technologies Code” requirements issued by the National Fire Protection Association. Violating these code provisions can result in hefty fines and fees, not to mention the public health and safety risk posed by volatile hydrogen. Unlike substances like natural gas, hydrogen is odorless and colorless, which can make it tough to detect any leaks.
For this reason, it’s essential that generation, purification and dispensing equipment is designed with appropriate safeguards. Two devices to consider are flow monitors and excess flow valves.
Flow Monitors for Hydrogen Power
Flow monitors, like the 125, 125BP, and 500 Bypass Series from ChemTec, are an inexpensive way to guard against abnormal flow conditions. Should a filter or pipe become partially or completely blocked, the flow monitor sends a signal to monitoring equipment. This allows remedial action to be taken quickly.
Excess Flow Valves for Hydrogen Power
An excess flow valve (EFV) regulates the emission of gasses, either manually or automatically. It guards against scenarios like a sudden disconnection or breakage of a pipe or hose. If an accident leads to uncontrolled fluid release, the EFV responds by sealing off the flow.
For example, when hydrogen is stored as 2,400 pounds per square inch (PSI), as it is at cell phone towers, it can quickly escape through even the most microscopic opening. ChemTec’s HPEFV (high-pressure excess flow valve) protects against potentially dangerous leaks by shutting off any excessive gas flow almost instantly.
An EFV is essential when handling specialty gasses like hydrogen — in fact, it is a crucial component of any hydrogen application. Preventing the uncontrolled flow of gasses and liquids is vital in meeting necessary safety regulations, plus it protects your equipment and other company resources.
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ChemTec offers a variety of other adjustable flow monitors, sensors, and switches that can be customized to meet any client’s needs. For companies that are interested in diversifying toward more renewable energy sources, look no further than ChemTec’s broad range of high-quality products.
Originally published March 18, 2020 in ChemTec News & Updates