The hydrogen consumption is expected to grow in the near future, and a forecasted energy transition after the COVID-19 pandemic may increment such growth. For this reason, there is the need for a solution to increase the hydrogen density for both storage and transportation purposes. The release of hydrogen from its handling equipment is a scenario that must be assessed to define the technology feasibility. Both confined and unconfined hydrogen releases have been broadly studied in the scientific literature. However, the focus has been placed mainly on the release and dispersion of compressed gaseous hydrogen. Hydrogen distribution to the future gas refuelling stations in liquid (cryogenic) phase rather than compressed gas is one of the options to increase the truck payload. For this reason, potential liquid hydrogen (LH2) release with a consequent pool formation and gas dispersion is one of the scenarios to consider by the associated risk assessment.
The aim of this study is to comprehend the hydrogen behaviour after a liquid release in a refuelling station, which represents a semi-confined space, by means of a commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tool: the FLame ACceleration Simulator (FLACS). The LH2 pool formation as well as the dispersion of the hydrogen gas cloud in the surrounding were investigated. Different parameters such as the variation in density of the extremely cold gas and the lower flammability limit (LFL) of the gas cloud were measured. As expected, the wind speed and direction significantly affect the position and dilution of the flammable gas cloud within and outside the facility. Few solutions to prevent further consequences from the LH2 releases such as a vapour cloud explosion were proposed to spark the interest on future studies on safety barriers for this type of accident scenario.