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Building Pioneer, NanoSUN’s mobile hydrogen cascade refueller, was a joint effort. We set out to build something never seen before: a mobile hydrogen refueller with large storage capacity, at a fraction of the cost of a fixed station, with minimal power consumption and maintenance requirements. This took the ingenuity and expertise of not only our team, but also of our trusted partners. You need high quality components to build high quality systems. 

This is the second of a series of articles where we thank our partners for their support, showcasing their unique contribution to the creation of Pioneer. To do this we would like to almost literally take the lid off Pioneer and give you a peek on what’s inside. 

Our focus of this episode is safety. We already talked about hydrogen safety in our Introduction to Hydrogen – A Beginner’s Guide, Hydrogen is not any more dangerous than any other fuel or gas, however to handle it properly one must consider its unique properties. Today we will showcase how Norgren, part of IMI plc and Crowcon were instrumental in helping us achieve high standards of safety on our Pioneer Units.

When dealing with flammable gases, the first requirement to operate safely is to be able to detect leaks as early as possible. Hydrogen is an odourless, invisible gas and it’s important to have reliable and ultra-sensitive detectors that can warn users way in advance before a leak becomes a real risk. Each Pioneer unit houses 2 gas detectors made by market leader and trusted brand Crowcon. These detectors have proved infallible in detecting even the smallest leak.

Ben Jewers, System and Certification Lead, NanoSUN: “We’ve worked hand in hand with Crowcon in all stages of the design, build and service of the Pioneer units. Being an internationally renowned group, they are quick to respond and support even at short notice across the UK and Europe.”

Michael Vaux “We’re proud to support NanoSUN in their mission of accelerating hydrogen transportation by providing innovative, convenient, and safe fuelling solutions. Our experts understand the safety risks that can arise when working with hydrogen and how critical it is to have a gas detection system in place that you can rely on to detect hydrogen leaks quickly. It is critical for mobile applications such as the NanoSUN mobile hydrogen refuelling stations that installed equipment requires minimal maintenance and provides highly dependable operation. Our team worked closely with the NanoSUN engineering team and our combined expertise within the hydrogen industry allowed us to deliver a solution that sets the safety standard in hydrogen transportation.”

Each Pioneer unit has several layers of safety systems all operating at the same time. Batteries are there to ensure that they are always running, even in the event power cuts. It doesn’t however end there as every well structured system should have a safety switch that automatically activates in the worst case scenario. You can always rely on mechanics and physics, and here market experts with dedicated hydrogen solutions Norgren helped us with their reliable Thermal Pressure Relief Devices, or more commonly known by their acronym, TPRDs. 

Each of our 9 glass fibre cylinders (explored in the first article of the series) have one of these installed at their ends. A TPRD system consists in a simple, yet incredibly clever, method: when a cylinder’s temperature exceeds safe levels, a glass ampoule will break, opening the release valve and letting all gas out of the tanks. Hydrogen being lighter than air, the gas will naturally escape upwards and quickly disperse in air, minimising risks of ignition.

Pioneer may be a relatively new product, but the safety systems it relies on are all based on long established, tried and tested methods and standards, complying with all current regulations (ADR, TPED, ATEX)

Ben Jewers, System and Certification Lead, NanoSUN: “The simple yet ingenious design of Norgren’s TPRD’s gives us confidence that we can safely release stored gas, in the unlikely event this will be required, providing much needed peace of mind.”

Darran Heath, Global Hydrogen Director, Norgren “We are delighted to be working with Nanosun and believe that working collaboratively is key to fostering innovation. Our range of Hydrogen products specially designed and manufactured for this type of high pressure application will provide the customer with a safe and competitive solution in the market today and into the future. Our promise and values are aligned to our commitment into building long-term relationships and delivering Breakthrough Engineering for a Better World.”

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