Quantitative Risk Assessment Methodology for Hydrogen Tank Rupture in a Tunnel Fire

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This study presents a methodology of a quantitative risk assessment for the scenario of an onboard hydrogen storage tank rupture and tunnel fire incident. The application of the methodology is demonstrated on a road tunnel. The consequence analysis is carried out for the rupture of a 70 MPa, 62.4-litre hydrogen storage tank in a fire, that has a thermally activated pressure relief device (TPRD) failed or blocked during an incident. Scenarios with two states of charge (SoC) of the tank, i.e., SoC = 99% and SoC = 59%, are investigated. The risks in terms of fatalities per vehicle per year and the cost per incident are assessed. It is found that for the reduction in the risk with the hydrogen-powered vehicle in a road tunnel fire incident to the acceptable level of 10−5 fatality/vehicle/year, the fire-resistance rating (FRR) of the hydrogen storage tank should exceed 84 min. The FRR increase to this level reduces the societal risk to an acceptable level. The increase in the FRR to 91 min reduces the risk in terms of the cost of the incident to GBP 300, following the threshold cost of minor injury published by the UK Health and Safety Executive. The Frequency–Number (F–N) of the fatalities curve is developed to demonstrate the effect of mitigation measures on the risk reduction to socially acceptable levels. The performed sensitivity study confirms that with the broad range of input parameters, including the fire brigade response time, the risk of rupture of standard hydrogen tank-TPRD systems inside the road tunnel is unacceptable. One of the solutions enabling an inherently safer use of hydrogen-powered vehicles in tunnels is the implementation of breakthrough safety technology—the explosion free in a fire self-venting (TPRD-less) tanks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-530
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Early online date2 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Dec 2022


  • risk assessment
  • hydrogen safety
  • tunnel


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