Safety Enhanced On First-ever Liquid Hydrogen Carrier Of The World, Following A Malfunction

A failure in the valve that caused a flame to suddenly flare up on the world’s first liquid hydrogen carrier right before its first journey to Japan from Australia reflected the need for powerful fault detection systems, per an Australian safety report.

The reason behind the incident on the Suiso Frontier on 25 January 2022 has reportedly been fixed, the Australian Transportation Safety Board mentioned in a report published last week. The vessel was loaded with liquid hydrogen for the vessel day before.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. / Facebook
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. / Facebook

Safety has been the top priority. The experience gained via an independent examination of this sort will help improve the approach and maintain safer operations in the future, explained the vessel builder named Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI).

This will be zero impact on future construction endeavours for liquefied hydrogen carriers or the progress of assignments, a firm spokesperson mentioned on Monday, adding that the company is still planning to introduce a commercial-scale hydrogen carrier by mid-2020.

The unforeseen malfunction could not prevent the vessel from proceeding on its test journey. KHI said in March that the trip had reflected that transporting liquid hydrogen was technically feasible.

Building vessels to transport super-chilled hydrogen is among the multiple factors holding hydrogen usage back. It is also vital in aiding the world in decarbonizing to fight climate change.

The unexpected malfunction on the Suiso Frontier was due to an impairment of the automated valve in the gas combustion unit. This happened on the vessel’s journey to Australia from Japan as it bore the wrong specifications for the power supply of the control system, the safety bureau mentioned in its report released on 2 February.

The unit burns off a minimal amount of hydrogen gas, which evaporates from the super-cooled liquid in transit to control the pressure within the storage tanks at a relatively safer level.

When the valve encountered a failure, an air fan damper closed up, overheating the gas combustion unit, resulting in the hydrogen flame within the team flaring up through a vent on the ship’s deck.

The unit didn’t have equipment for detecting the closing of the air damper and had inappropriate flame scanners, so the alarm of the combustion unit and shut-down algorithms did not get activated promptly to pause the flame flaring.

The incident upholds the essence of making sure that the automated shipboard operating units are always enabled with advanced safety controls to help avoid hazardous impacts in cases of malfunction, the agency mentioned.

The German major that had developed the gas combustion unit, Saacke, has since launched new equipment on the discharge dampers of the unit’s air fan. It has also programmed the unit to shut down whenever a fault is detected.

References: Reuters, XM

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