Hydrogen is one of the most suitable candidates in replacing heavy hydrocarbons. Liquefaction of fuels is one of the most effective processes to increase their low density. This is critical especially in large-scale or mobile applications such as in the maritime or aeronautical fields. A potential loss of integrity of the cryogenic storage equipment might lead to severe consequences due to the properties of these substances (e.g. high flammability). For this reason, this critical event must be avoided. The aim of this study is to analyse the behaviour of the cryogenic vessel and its lading when it is exposed to a fire and understand how to prevent a catastrophic rupture of the tank during this accident scenario.
A two-dimensional computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis is carried out on a cryogenic liquid hydrogen (LH2) vessel to investigate its thermal response when engulfed in a fire. The model accounts for the evaporation and condensation of the substance and can predict the tank pressurization rate and temperature distribution. It is assumed that the vessel is completely engulfed in the fire (worst-case scenario). The CFD model is validated with the outcomes of a small-scale fire test of an LH2 tank. Critical indications on the dynamic response of the cryogenic tank involved in a worst-case accident scenario are provided. Tank pressurisation and temperature distributions of the case study can be exploited to provide conservative estimations of the time to failure (TTF) of the vessel. These outcomes represent useful information to support the emergency response to this type of accident scenario and can aid the selection of appropriate and effective safety barriers to prevent the complete destruction of the tank.