Project: Assessing the safety of the delivery and storage of hydrogen

Reference: SRT 7/2/10

Last update: 03/09/2009 12:33:48


The main objectives of this study are to:

. allow the DfT to understand the hazards and assess and justify the risks associated with the transport and storage of hydrogen, which will be essential for making informed decisions and for communication with the public;
. provide a framework for assessing the risks from the transportation of hydrogen by road or rail and the storage of hydrogen at fuel depots; and,
. summarise global research on hydrogen to identify technical aspects of delivery systems and anticipated timescales.


A number of options for the bulk delivery and transport of hydrogen are currently being investigated. These include transport of liquid, or high-pressure gaseous hydrogen by road or rail, or the distribution of hydrogen in the UK's natural gas pipeline system (the EU NaturalHy project). At present the final option is not known but the choice is likely to be based upon a combination of technical feasibility, economic factors, geographical location, the quantities required and the level of risk associated with each delivery method.

As hydrogen, even in a liquefied form, has a far lower density than hydrocarbon fuels such as petrol, diesel, or even LPG, the number of road journeys required to transport an equivalent amount of fuel to that shipped at present would be considerably increased. Given the anticipated increase in road traffic, especially by road-haulage companies, future fuel requirements will be even greater.

For the DfT, this means that as well as a requirement to consider the practicality and safety of hydrogen-fuelled road vehicles, consideration must also be given to the inherent risks associated with the bulk delivery of hydrogen from storage sites to local distribution points, for all modes of delivery. This will allow comparison of risks along the transport corridors to establish tolerability and feed into the choice of the safest option for given locations.

The framework methodologies developed within this study will allow the initial ranking and assessment of the merits of the various options given the current understanding, including comparison with conventional hydrocarbon fuels, as well as determining the technical feasibility of introducing the appropriate infrastructure. This will enable the DfT to understand the impact of hydrogen delivery in the UK, especially on the road and rail networks, to help shape future transport policies and allow them to lead on the consultative process on the optimum transport method.


Health and Safety Laboratory
Harpur Hill, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 9JN
01298 21 8722

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £99,950.00

Actual start date: 16 October 2006

Actual completion date: 11 January 2008


Assessing the safety of delivery and storage of Hydrogen
Author: Mohammad Moonis, Jill Wilday, Mike Wardman and Helen Balmforth
Publication date: 14/02/2008
Source: Health and Safety Laboratory - Mohammad Moonis, Jill Wilday, Mike Wardman and Helen Balmforth

Summary of results

  1. See Final Report link