Skip to navigation Skip to content

Current funded projects within Hydrogen Safety Engineering and Research

Projects currently being researched within HySAFER.

Support to safety analysis of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies - SUSANA

Funder: CEC – Framework 7 – Fuel Cell Hydrogen
Duration:   01 September 2013 – 31 August 2016
Staff Involved: Prof Vladimir Molkov, Dr Dmitriy Makarov, Dr Sile Brennan

The SUSANA project addresses the topic SP1-JTI-FCH.2012.5.2 "CFD model evaluation protocol for safety analysis of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies". The project will critically review the state-of-the-art in physical and mathematical modelling of hydrogen safety relevant phenomena; compile a guide to best practices in the use of CFD; update verification and validation procedures; generate verification and validation databases; perform benchmarking; and finally create the CFD Model Evaluation Protocol (HyMEP). HyMEP will facilitate the use of CFD as a cost-effective contemporary tool for inherently safer design of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen systems and facilities. The project consortium is composed of key players in the field of modelling and numerical simulations from research institutions, academia and industry. The external expert group is a powerful project instrument with open membership to maximise the outreach of the project outcomes and to involve stakeholders in the protocol use at as early stages as possible. Experts will be invited to participate in benchmarking, attend events organised by the project. Dissemination activities like workshops will include CFD users and representatives of permitting authorities, including members of International Association for Hydrogen Safety (, IEA HIA Task 31, relevant national and international projects, etc.

SUPERGEN hydrogen and fuel cells hub

Duration: 01 May 2012 – 30 April 2017
Staff Involved: Prof Vladimir Molkov, Dr Dmitriy Makarov

The hydrogen and fuel cells SUPERGEN is funded by the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, as part of the government's Sustainable Power Generation and Supply initiative. The H2FC SUPERGEN consists of a multidisplinary team of academics. The core research programme for the hub includes: Policy, Research Synthesis, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Systems, Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Safety, Education and Training, Hydrogen Storage, Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells, Solid Oxide Fuel Cells and Electrolysers. The hub seeks to inform key stakeholders, especially policy makers, of the potential benefits of H2FC technologies, and their capacity for addressing the energy trilemma: energy security, energy cost, and environmental sustainability. The Hub champions H2FC research, both within the UK and internationally. Ulster champions hydrogen safety research. Breakthrough safety strategies and engineering solutions are needed to underpin the safe introduction of emerging technologies. This project looks at reduction of hazard distances. So far the analytical model accounting for the contribution of hydrogen combustion into the blast wave strength is developed. The CFD model to simulate blast and fireball dynamics is validated against experiment. The CFD model of the bonfire test following Global Technology Regulations #13 protocol is formulated for numerical testing of fire resistance rating.

Integrating European infrastructure to support science and development of hydrogen - and fuel cell technologies towards European strategy for sustainable competitive and secure energy - H2FC European Infrastructure Project

Funder: CEC – Framework 7
Duration: 01 November 2011 – 31 October 2015
Staff Involved: Prof Vladimir Molkov, Dr Dmitriy Makarov, Dr Sile Brennan

There were three pillars in the European H2FC project: networking integrating activities led by Ulster, transnational access activities, and joint research activities. The goal of the project was to generate a structured and integrated alliance of leading research organisations in the field of hydrogen safety, storage, and fuel cells. The main objectives were to:

  • Integrate, enhance and improve the existing research infrastructure in the area of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
  • Provide a virtual infrastructure to accommodate the best European testing facilities.
  • Provide transnational access of the hydrogen and fuel cell communities from different member state to the best research infrastructures.
  • Provide databases on safety, performance and durability, as well as modelling tools.
  • Coordinate relevant education and training activities.
  • Complement the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking activities and facilitate tackling major research and development relating bottlenecks in the field.

Ulster organized four European Technical Schools on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, and was the main contributor to the e-Infrastructure, including the Cyber-Laboratory online engineering tools, and the open source CFD code. Physical and mathematical models developed at Ulster are now being transferred to this software under continuous development.

European hydrogen emergency response training programme for first responders - HyResponse

Funder: Framework 7, Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking
Duration: 01 June 2013 – 31 May 2016
Staff Involved: Prof Vladimir Molkov, Dr Dmitriy Makarov

The HyResponse project aims to establish the World's first comprehensive training programme for first responders. European Hydrogen Safety Training Platform (EHSTP) will provide first responders with the unique hi-tech training facilities, and the original training materials. The training program is threefold: educational training, including the state-of-the-art knowledge in hydrogen safety, operational training on mock-up real scale installations, and innovative virtual reality training reproducing in detail an entire accident scenario, including influence of first responder's intervention. Contemporary engineering tools to assess accident scene status and facilitate decision-making will be developed. Three pilot training sessions will be organised during the project. The Emergency Response Guide, explaining details of intervention strategy and tactics, will be developed and included into the pilot training sessions to receive attendees' feedback. The Advisory and Consultative Panel includes key European stakeholders and provides highest outreach throughout Europe. EHSTP will train first responders to deal with all safety aspects for a range of hydrogen applications, including passenger vehicles, backup power, stationary fuel cells for combined production of heat and power, etc. HySAFER is responsible for underpinning research on hazard distances, the educational part of teaching materials, training during three short courses, and the website support.

Pre-normative research on safe in-door use of fuel cells and hydrogen systems - HyIndoor project

Funder: CEC – Framework 7
Duration: 01 January 2012 – 31 January 2015
Staff Involved: Prof Vladimir Molkov, Dr Dmitriy Makarov, Dr Sile Brennan

Hydrogen energy applications are often used indoors, e.g. forklifts in warehouse, refueling stations, fuel cells for backup applications, etc. Detailed assessment of hazards and associated risks is required for hydrogen safety engineering. The unscheduled release can lead to hydrogen accumulation and formation of flammable mixture. HyIndoor has develop European safety design guidelines, novel engineering tools, and recommendations for Regulations, Codes and Standards (RCS) intended to prevent and mitigate hazardous consequences of hydrogen release in confined environments. The closing of knowledge gaps was critical in 3 main areas: hydrogen release conditions and accumulation, vented deflagration, and under-ventilated hydrogen fire regimes. Each of these 3 generic phenomena has been subject to analytical, experimental and numerical analysis. The European guidelines were developed (, along with recommendations for international RCS including ISO/TC197 "Hydrogen Technologies", CEN/TC268, WG5 "Hydrogen Technologies", IEC/TC105 "Fuel Cell Technologies" ( HySAFER contributed to the HyIndoor project outcomes through the development and validation of novel models and engineering tools for calculation of passive ventilation, pressure peaking phenomenon, universal flame length correlation for expanded and under-expanded jets, effect of flow restrictors, deflagration mitigation by limitation of hydrogen inventory, correlations for uniform and localized non-uniform vented deflagrations, revealing regimes of under-ventilated fires, etc.

Centre for doctoral training in fuel cells and their fuels - clean power for the 21st century

Funder: EPSRC
Duration: 01 April 2014 – 31 March 2019
Staff Involved: Prof Vladimir Molkov, Dr Dmitriy Makarov

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in for Fuel Cells and their Fuels builds on the success of the 'Hydrogen, Fuels Cells and Their Applications' centre, which was established in 2009 in collaboration with the Midlands Energy Consortium (MEC.) Drawing upon expertise and research facilities at the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham, Imperial College London and University College London, the CDT is a flagship collaboration undertaking research in a breadth of fuel cell related fields. By exploring global energy problems, the aim of this project is to train a new generation of scientists and engineers to address interdisciplinary challenges involved in the transition to a sustainable energy future. To achieve this, the project investigates the wide range of fuels used in fuel cells today. This includes direct use of natural gas, ethanol, gasification syn-gas and other biomass products in addition to hydrogen. Ulster is sub-contracted to teach during 5 years a two-week block release module "Principles of Hydrogen Safety" for about 20 PhD students located at the University of Birmingham.

Addressing fundamental challenges in the design of new generation fuels

Duration: 01 February 2014 – 31 January 2018
Staff Involved: Prof Vladimir Molkov, Dr Dmitriy Makarov

This FP7 MCA "Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways" project is coordinated by Shell Research Ltd (UK). There is a pressing need at the European and global levels to address challenges in the design of a new generation of fuels employing gasoline and ethanol blends. Abnormal combustion phenomena are a severe constraint to the use of much higher boosting pressures, which are needed for significant gains in efficiency and reduction in emissions. The area is vitally important for the reduction of GHG emissions and the resulting climate change impact of transportation. GENFUEL is an intersectoral collaboration that tackles fundamental challenges in understanding combustion mechanisms. University researchers will participate via secondments to interdisciplinary R&D projects. Industry approaches to R&D will be conveyed to each university via the short-term secondments of Shell researchers. To demonstrate commitment to a durable collaboration, Shell will jointly initiate follow-on or new projects. A lasting intersectoral collaboration will therefore be established. Ulster participates in a workpackage "Safe handling of sustainable fuels", including transfer of knowledge to Shell in the use of Ulster multi-phenomena turbulent burning velocity deflagration model and its validation against experiments available at Shell

Integrated safety strategies for onboard hydrogen storage systems - SUPERGEN H2FC Challenge

Funder: EPSRC

Duration: October 2013 - October 2018

Staff Involved: Dr D. Makarov, Professor V. Molkov

This 4 years project is focused at the main unresolved technological safety issues for hydrogen-powered vehicles, i.e. the fire resistance of onboard hydrogen storage. There are about 15,500 accidental car fires in Great Britain annually (Fire statistics. Great Britain, 2010-2011). The most widespread for car use Type 4 tanks are made of carbon-fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) and can stand in fire up to 6.5 minutes before catastrophic failure. To "prevent" catastrophic failure of tank in a fire it is equipped by temperature-activated pressure relief device (TPRD) with currently typical orifice diameter of about 5 mm. A release from 70 MPa storage tank from such TPRD produces a flame of up to 15 m long and separation distance to "no harm" criteria of 70 C of about 50 m. Moreover, due to so-called pressure-peaking effect a typical garage will be destroyed by such a release (about 300-400 g/s) in 1-2 seconds. Use of such onboard storage excludes evacuation of people from the car or safeguarding of people from the car by first responders. To reduce mass flow rate through TPRD and reduce flame jet length would require increased level of fire resistance of Type 4 tanks from today's 1-7 minutes to about or more than 30 minutes.

The project aims to develop novel safety strategies and engineering solutions for onboard storage of hydrogen. This aim will be achieved through realisation of the following objectives:

  • Hazard identification study and risk assessment
  • Critical analysis of current safety strategies and engineering solutions
  • Numerical study of potential fire attacks from adjacent vehicles on road or in car parks
  • Numerical study of conjugate heat transfer from fire to storage tanks of different design and extent of fire protection by CFD technique, including IP of the University of Ulster
  • Finite element analysis to simulate response of tanks of different design to external fire
  • Experimental study of prototype designs to increase fire resistance of onboard storage
  • Numerical simulations to evaluate the reduction in mass flow rate achievable with the proposed increase of cylinder fire resistance
  • Novel storage and safety solutions, including materials for a liner
  • Development of engineering criteria of tank failure to formulate requirements to testing protocol
  • Effect of safety strategies and novel engineering solutions on socio-economic aspects of hydrogen economy.

This project will provide novel safety strategies and tested engineering solutions to increase fire resistance to the level that jet flame length will be reduced to allow self-evacuation and rescue operations on a car in case of fire. Potential beneficiaries are not only growing number of hydrogen-fuelled vehicle owners, members of their families, bus drivers and passengers, yet wider public. Indeed, inherently safer fuel cell vehicles would perform in fire with the same or less consequences compared to fossil fuel cars. The project staff will work in collaboration with project partners to ensure and maximise impact across potential beneficiaries: industry, regulators and public safety officials, academia, and public.

Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Hub Extension (H2FC SUPERGEN)

Funder: EPSRC

Duration: 01 May 2017 – 30 April 2019

Staff Involved: Prof Vladimir Molkov

The H2FC sector is developing at a rapid pace around the world. In USA, Germany, S. Korea, and Japan, where the government has provided incentives or entered public-private partnerships, the uptake of FC technologies has been far greater than in the UK and is expected to grow, generating billions of dollars every year. In Asia, manufacturers will produce around 3,000 fuel cell cars in 2016 and around 50,000 fuel cell combined heat and power devices. Toyota alone expects to build 30,000 FC cars in 2020. Some hydrogen buses in London's fleet have operated for nearly 20,000 hours since 2011 and the city of Aberdeen runs Europe's largest hydrogen bus fleet, while individual stationary fuel cells have generated power for over 80,000 operating hours. The recently issued H2FC UK roadmap has identified key opportunities for the UK and areas in which H2FC technologies can have benefits.

The H2FC SUPERGEN Hub seeks to address a number of key issues facing the hydrogen and fuel cells sector, specifically: (i) to evaluate and demonstrate the role of hydrogen and fuel cell research in the UK energy landscape, and to link this to the wider landscape internationally, (ii) to identify, study and exploit the impact of hydrogen and fuel cells in low carbon energy systems, and (iii) to create a cohort of academics and industrialists who are appraised of each other's work and can confidently network together to solve research problems which are beyond their individual competencies.

Such systems will include the use of H2FC technologies to manage intermittency with increased penetration of renewables, supporting the development of secure and affordable energy supplies for the future. Both low carbon transport (cars, buses, boats/ferries) and low carbon heating/power systems employing hydrogen and/or fuel cells have the potential to be important technologies in our future energy system, benefiting from their intrinsic high efficiency and their ability to use a wide range of low to zero carbon fuel stocks.

NET-Tools: Novel education and training tools based on digital applications related to hydrogen and fuel cell technology

Funder: CEC-H2020-JTI-FCH

Duration: 01 March 2017 - 29 February 2020

Staff Involved: Prof Vladimir Molkov, Dr Dmitriy Makarov

Education and training for the fuel cell and hydrogen (FCH) technology sector is critical for the current and future workforce as well as for the further implementation of a promising technology within Europa. The project NET-Tools will develop an e-infrastructure and provide digital tools and information service for educational issues and training within FCH technologies based on most recent IT tools.

NET-Tools will constitute a technology platform, leveraging robust and effective open source/free learning management systems while offering a unique blend of novel digital tools encompassing the spheres of information, education and research. With its two main pillars e-Education, e-Laboratory, the project addresses various target groups and levels of education - from higher schools and universities (undergraduate and graduate students) to professionals and engineers from industry, offering both e-learning modules and on-line experimental techniques.

The main goal is to develop new e-education methods and concepts, ICT-based services and tools for data- and computer-intensive research to enhance the knowledge, productivity and competitiveness of those interested or already directly involved in the massive implementation of H2 and FCH technologies in Europe. NET-Tools will be delivered combining the expertise of major experts and practitioners on FCH sector under the guidance of leading companies gathered in a board, while interacting with similar activities in US, Asia and South Africa. It has the capacity to pave the road to more efficient digital science combining latest technical achievements and an internet culture of openness and creativity, while pursuing the ambition to become the hydrogen counterpart of Coursera. The development of business concepts will guide NET-Tools as an e-infrastructure useable for FCH-Community into the future.