H2 refuelling stations manufactured by Nel have been closed for the time being as a precaution after the explosion at a hydrogen filling station in Norway four days ago. According to H2 Mobility, four stations in Germany are affected by this measure.
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The explosion in Norway took place on Monday around 5:30 pm at the Uno-X station in the Oslo suburb of Sandvika. While one was injured on-site, according to police reports, two people were treated for minor injuries due to airbags deploying in their car nearby. Uno-X installed the hydrogen fuelling station in Norwegian Sandvika in 2016. The station includes on-site hydrogen production via solar power.
Germany has a total of 60 hydrogen refuelling stations, the four of these that are supplied by Nel are now closed for the time being. H2 Mobility Deutschland issued a statement: “For H2 Mobility, the safety of our customers and the station staff is the top priority. For this reason, we took all stations of the manufacturer Nel in Germany off the grid on 10 June as a preventive measure.” H2 Mobility Deutschland is a joint venture from hydrogen heavyweights Air Liquide, Daimler, Linde, OMV, Shell and Total with the task of accelerating the expansion of the hydrogen infrastructure in Germany.
The Norwegian site that suffered the explosion included a containerised, pressurised alkaline electrolyser that produces hydrogen in part from solar power. In a statement about the explosion, Nel explained, “It is too early to say anything about the root cause of the incident. Nel currently has expert personnel on the scene and is actively contributing to the ongoing formal investigation. In addition, Nel has engaged fire and explosion safety consultants from Gexcon, who are on site and taking an active role to provide an independent incident report.”
Vice President Consultant of Gexcon AS, Geirmund Vislie, said that “Based on what we have seen at the site, we can conclude that neither the electrolyser nor the dispenser used by customers had anything to do with this incident. We will continue to analyse the other components of the site to further narrow down the source.”
In an online Q&A interface to share the latest information about the incident at the Kjørbo station near Oslo, Nel confirmed that no unit exploded at the site, but rather hydrogen gas leaked out and caught fire in the open air, which created a pressure wave. The investigation will now apparently be looking into what caused the hydrogen to leak. According to the latest update from the 14 June, Nel is still saying that it is too early to comment on the cause of the leak.
Update 20.06.2019: Manufacturer Nel has now released another update indicating that hydrogen leak in the high-pressure storage tank may have been the cause. Investigations are still ongoing.
Update 01.07.2019: The hydrogen leak was caused by an improperly installed plug. More details here. Investigations are ongoing to find out what ignited the leak.