Hydrogen Tank Rupture in Fire in the Open Atmosphere: Hazard Distance Defined by Fireball

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The engineering correlations for assessment of hazard distance defined by a size of fireball after either liquid hydrogen spill combustion or high-pressure hydrogen tank rupture in a fire in the open atmosphere (both for stand-alone and under-vehicle tanks) are presented. The term “fireball size” is used for the maximum horizontal size of a fireball that is different from the term “fireball diameter” applied to spherical or semi-spherical shape fireballs. There are different reasons for a fireball to deviate from a spherical shape, e.g., in case of tank rupture under a vehicle, the non-instantaneous opening of tank walls, etc. Two conservative correlations are built using theoretical analysis, numerical simulations, and experimental data available in the literature. The theoretical model for hydrogen fireball size assumes complete isobaric combustion of hydrogen in air and presumes its hemispherical shape as observed in the experiments and the simulations for tank rupturing at the ground level. The dependence of the fireball size on hydrogen mass and fireball’s diameter-to-height ratio is discussed. The correlation for liquid hydrogen release fireball is based on the experiments by Zabetakis (1964). The correlations can be applied as engineering tools to access hazard distances for scenarios of liquid or gaseous hydrogen storage tank rupture in a fire in the open atmosphere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-146
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 26 Feb 2021


  • hydrogen safety
  • fireball size
  • hazard distance
  • tank rupture


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