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Hydrogen boilers might need ‘four-inch holes in walls to prevent explosions’

March 6, 2023

By Paul Homewood


The madness continues!



Households that have hydrogen boilers installed could be forced to drill a 4×4-inch hole in their wall to mitigate risks of explosion, according to recommendations in a government-backed safety report.
Residents in a neighbourhood being considered for a trial of hydrogen for home heating have been alarmed by a report’s recommendation that rooms with boilers hobs or substantial pipework “should have non-closable vents with [an] equivalent area of 10,000 mm2”.
The report, by Arup, the design consultants, said these should be located as close to the ceiling level as possible and no more than 50cm below ceiling level.
The same report, which came out in 2019, said that hydrogen for home heating could cause four times as many explosions and injuries than gas boilers without sufficient mitigations, including ventilation.
The report, which is based on a two-storey, masonry-built, terraced house with a basement and a loft conversion, will be used to inform the trials of hydrogen for home heating expected to go ahead from 2025.
Whitby, in the Cheshire town of Ellesmere Port, is one of two neighbourhoods being considered for conversion to hydrogen, with the final decision expected to be made by the Government this year.
In discussions with residents, representatives from Arup and gas network Cadent, which is bidding to run the trial, have said most homes will not require the maximum ventilation given the draughtiness of much of the UK’s housing stock.
Kate Grannell, a resident of Whitby who has led opposition to the plans for the hydrogen trial, said the assurances had not allayed concerns.
She said: “All we’ve done for decades is insulate and draught-proof our houses. So to say homes are leaky enough to void the requirements for ventilation, I think is a really big question.”
Richard Lowes, an energy expert at the Regulatory Assistance Project, said that it ran counter to efforts to reduce draughts and insulate homes to reduce emissions.
He said: “We’re trying to make building more energy efficient and putting in a 10-centimetre hole is doing the opposite of that. So it’s totally backwards.
“To counteract the heat loss, you’d have to have more heat so it is making hydrogen more inefficient. We already know that hydrogen will be more expensive, so it’s making that even more expensive.”

  1. Mike Jackson permalink
    March 6, 2023 5:00 pm

    The big problem is going to be that as the dangers and the obvious failures that net-zero and all the other anti-science projects are bringing in the wake increase, government, ever unable to admit it might be getting it wrong, will simply double down.
    This is not going to end well. I strongly suspect it will take deaths before the message finally gets through.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      March 6, 2023 7:11 pm

      Hydrogen, lithium batteries, solar PV roof panels, eBikes, eScooters BEVs. What could possibly go wrong?

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        March 6, 2023 9:00 pm

        Where would you like me to start? 😡

      • Matt Dalby permalink
        March 7, 2023 11:47 pm

        Hindenburg disaster might be a good place to start.

  2. March 6, 2023 5:05 pm

    NASA has scrubbed many Launches and rescheduled them to allow time to fix Hydrogen Leaks, Hydrogen is hard to contain. Of course, the home heating maintenance people are likely better trained than the people launching rockets, or maybe not.

  3. Gamecock permalink
    March 6, 2023 5:32 pm

    K. Here’s a BFD.

    Are they going to inject an odorant into the gas?

    A suitable odorant for residential hydrogen gas delivery has long been a problem. The British government thinks they have an adequate one. They call it NB, New Blend. Comprised of 78% 2-methyl-propanethiol, and 22% dimethyl Sulphide.

    Click to access 00%20Hydrogen%20Odorant%20Final%20Report%20v10.pdf

    There is a huge problem with it. It poisons the gas for other uses, such as stationery fuel cells or fuel cell vehicles. IF the government has other plans for the H2Grid, then there won’t be an odorant (!).

    Residential delivery of hydrogen gas without an odorant should be absolutely prohibited, and its use should be conspicuously included in all discussions of going to hydrogen boilers. It IS that serious; imagine natural gas without an odorant.

    • March 6, 2023 7:01 pm

      What is the rationale for hydrogen boilers in a first place especially if all of this hydrogen is meant to come from excess electricity from wind & solar the efficiency is bad enough as the most logical thing to do is use it to power a fuel cells which in turn could run an air to air heat pump from the waste heat or to make methane instead from excess electricity (and heat from nuclear fission reactors) and keep the existing gas system (personally I am opposed to replacing natural gas in homes with hydrogen) as I suspect gas cooker & fires could not easily be converted like with coal gas as hydrogen burns hotter, is explosive at a wider range of air mixture and gives off UV light so has a nearly invisible flame it would be hard to know what effect this will have on the materials in existing gas appliances so we would probably have to replace them with new appliances (think of the Co2 emissions or are the net zero lobby only selectively concerned about that) for safety reasons.

      That’s before we deal with the steel, iron and even lead gas pipes still in people’s homes so you would need to replace the gas pipes coming from the street you might as well just build a district heating system.

    • GeoffB permalink
      March 6, 2023 7:07 pm

      I had to look up BFD, yup that is a big problem, Net Zero is not going to work, but it is the climate change act 2008 that has to be repealed to stop the madness. In order to obey that law we have to implement net zero, the eco loons have won a court action which mandated by end March 2023 the government has to come up with a detail plan on how it is going to be achieved. DEFRA are nowhere near implementing the farming policies that Holland is attempting and Sri Lanka actually achieved. It is going to get worse!

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      March 7, 2023 10:10 am

      Some years ago I was involved in an evaluation of converting the UK gas distribution network to hydrogen. Here is an extract from the full report.
      Item 2.3.2 covers the very point you raise – at the time of the report there was no suitable odorant and I am sceptical whether there is an effective one now. Indeed it is huge BFD.
      Interestingly in order to get the required experienced contributors to make the above report, the authors had to offer anonymity. Most of us took up the offer simply because making overtly adverse remarks might jeopardise our future contract work – sad really.

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 9, 2023 12:13 am

      More on odorant. Hydrogen is so leaky, half the houses in UK could have an odd odor. Though I suppose hydrogen could leak, but the odorant can’t make it through the crack.

      • March 9, 2023 10:32 am

        Of course hydrogen will leak and go through materials other gases can’t get through (especially at the same speed) it is the lightest molecule so all odorants will be more heavy than it that physics and we forget natural gas can separate from it odorant which is why I believe in the UK the odorant is added at the local distribution network but its less explosive than hydrogen so it not as much of a problem as the smell is noticeable before the air to gas ratio is an issue.

        I believe (I’m suspect someone on this blog will know more) there were some leaks/accidents in the town gas day that would not have happened with methane likely due to the hydrogen separating out through micro cracks. Also lets not forget town gas was distributed at a lower pressure than we currently distribute natural gas (hydrogen distribution may need to be at an even higher pressure to compensate for it lower energy density if we want it to power boilers) so the molecule that gave it its smell may have had more time to be noticed and buildings were draftier.

  4. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    March 6, 2023 6:57 pm

    H2 makes an excellent fuel, when you add carbon atoms otherwise it’s leaky, sneaky and explosive.

  5. firstcreateyoursitedotcomaccount permalink
    March 6, 2023 8:25 pm

    New England (Boston area) suburbs use basement oil tank and furnaces for heat. Some of the NE regulations sound very scary too.

  6. dearieme permalink
    March 6, 2023 8:36 pm

    In principle I knew all about hydrogen from my school and undergraduate days. But the best warning I got when I started work. “Slippery stuff, hydrogen”.

    Of course the Net Zero fantasy is based on ignorance and irrationality.

  7. March 6, 2023 9:58 pm

    Who in their right mind would buy one of these contraptions? Or even want to be in the same house as one.

  8. March 7, 2023 3:14 am

    Nature worked out the only sensible way to burn hydrogen efficiently billions of years ago when the Universe was knee high to a grasshopper: nuclear fusion. Unfortunately, stupid humans still haven’t managed to do this here on earth, so they’re simply putting a match to the raw fuel instead, hoping it won’t blow up by drilling 4 inch wide holes in walls! I’m reminded of the Mash Get Smash adverts for some strange reason.

  9. julianflood permalink
    March 7, 2023 5:50 am

    Hydrogen: Houdini meets Basil Brush.


  10. John Brown permalink
    March 7, 2023 10:07 am

    I believe that converting green hydrogen to green methane using the Sabatier process is worth the additional 20% loss of energy to enable all the existing natural gas infrastructure and devices to be used as well as avoiding the dangers of using high pressure, leaky, explosive hydrogen. The green methane can also be used to power all existing ices with simple conversion to make transport net zero of CO2

    • Vernon E permalink
      March 7, 2023 11:50 am

      JB: Since when has anyone suggested that green hydrogen (i.e. electrolytic) has a viable place in our energy future. Its fantasy.

  11. gezza1298 permalink
    March 7, 2023 10:40 am

    Having worked on Ex Haz stuff in the past where we used hydrogen to provide the highest explosion pressure perhaps we need Ex approved houses. Everything electric needs to be Ex approved which will include your watches and phones as they have batteries that can provide an ignition source. Going down a coal mine in Wales all electric watches had to be surrendered – bit early for mass phone use then – unless of course you had an Intrinsically safe Ex i approved watch. Perhaps one wall of buildings should be weak so that it blows out to prevent the whole building collapsing when there is an explosion. Would make getting the bodies out easier.

  12. March 7, 2023 10:07 pm

    The use of H should be limited to chemistry lab classes, where the end result is a crowd-pleasing POP. Only and idiot would put a hydrogen bomb inside there home as a heating appliance. It is unconscionable that some Green fanatic politician would MANDATE these things even on a trial basis. Anyone out there old enough to remember the Hindenburg disaster? Look it up, youngsters.

  13. ancientpopeye permalink
    March 8, 2023 10:53 am

    Eco lunacy, and for what exactly, destroy industry in Britain for less than 1% emisions but encouraging 30% emission China to produce more carbon, madness indeed?

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