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Big Rig Carrying Hydrogen Catches Fire No Explosion

Here’s another story for all the naysayers, doomsdayers, end-of-worlders and Armageddon-ites when it comes to hydrogen. There was a big rig truck in Texas carrying compressed hydrogen gas that caught fire and partly burned.

I say partly because the video shows the back end of the truck burned but not the middle or front. The supposed cause of the fire had to do with the rear brakes overheating and catching the back end of the hydrogen tanks on fire.

The big rig truck driver tried to put out the fire himself with a fire extinguisher as he called 911. The firefighters and Praxair officials were on the scene quickly to put out the fire. Notice that there was a fire only at the rear of the truck. No one was hurt or injured. There was no explosion.

In August 2010 I had talked about a small explosion and fire at a hydrogen fueling station. One person was injured (he was close to the explosion) and no one was killed. Once again the fire was quickly contained.

Hydrogen haters typically point to these incidents and say basically the sky is falling, where in reality the history of gasoline and other fuel fires and explosions have been much worse in comparison. Yes, hydrogen needs to be handled with care. No, it’s not the end of the world.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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6 comments

  1. I used to drive a truck. Here’s what happened: His brakes overheated and that heats up the wheels. That, in turn, started the rubber on the tires burning. It’s one of the most common trucking “accidents” out there and usually ends well for everyone but the person who has to replace the tires.

    Once the tires start, they will burn until they’re done burning or the fire department shows up with a very special flame gel/foam that is capable of cooling it enough to put them out so they don’t smolder and light right back up.

    The burns on the trailer itself (hydrogen tank and such) are from flames leaping up from the tires and burning off the paint and finish. The trailer itself didn’t catch fire.

    Those hydrogen tanks are nearly impossible to explode. The most common time for them to “explode” is when the hydrogen is being transferred to or from the trailer tanks themselves (it’s not one big tank, but a series of cylinders). Even then, the explosion is not all of the H2 contained in the tanks, but merely that which escapes before safety valves pop shut when the too-fast exit of H2.

    It’s extremely difficult to cause these storage and transportation systems to explode. There are safety videos they show you when you’re getting your Hazardous Materials permits that show a gas trailer of this type being hit by a train. Rather than explode, the individual cylinders break away from one another and fly off like pipes, still intact.

    Anyway, thought I’d throw some insight into this. I love your site and read the RSS regularly.

  2. Refuse Vehicle Repair

    To build your own hydrogen car, you need a good quality conversion guide or manual. You need not sacrifice price for quality. Even at a low cost of, you can get an excellent guide filled with quality information.

  3. What is the hurry to have expensive energy sources ?

    There is no such thing as man made Global Warming !

    Oil is needed and it is cheap,plentiful and RELIABLE !

    If the U.S would wake up and drill so you dont have to count on Canada,Middle East,Mexico for oil,you gas /oil prices would remain low.

    Remember oil just isnt for vehicles,your computer,keyboard is made from oil,your toothbrush,lotion ect..is made from oil.

  4. Michael C. Robinson

    Man made global warming is natural global warming enhanced by man.
    Yes their is man made global warming where 30% of that warming is caused by motor vehicles. Another thirty percent is probably caused by people’s homes. The final piece of the pie probably comes from factories. Only hydrogen is a plentiful energy carrier that can reverse man made global warming. Bio fuels at best are carbon neutral. Biodiesel may make sense if the glycerin by-product is used to produce cheap hydrogen. Sadly, there is so much anti-hydrogen bias that googling won’t turn up which bacteria is needed and how it is isolated.

    All the technology needed to support a hydrogen based transit system is at worst in the laboratory. Political bias and prejudice is the only barrier to bringing the needed technology out of the lab. Instead of saying that hydrogen is not clean, Obama should be trying to create a sense of urgency and promote what has already been discovered concerning hydrogen.
    Unfortunately, Obama is supposed to be from the very party that would promote good environmental stewardship where the republican party right now tends to be too far the other way. So much money has been spent to “stimulate” the economy, but how much really did we need to spend on hydrogen instead? I think the investment that is needed from government is small compared to the potential benefits.

    There is probably more oil in Montana than their is in Saudia Arabia, but using that oil to produce gasoline and diesel ignores global warming issues. Wasting that Oil on fuel is a terrible and unnecessary mistake. Hydrogen has to be produced to refine Oil anyways, so why not just use the hydrogen instead?

    I’m tired of radical liberals like Obama who tell us that hydrogen is not a clean energy carrier and radical conservatives who refuse to accept the facts about global warming. There are eastern seaboard states in the U.S. right now that are experiencing problems caused by higher than normal sea level.

  5. its not nessassary to bother to contain hydrogen,you can now make as much as you want .

  6. Juan Manuel BORTHAGARAY

    Hydrogen fabricated through electrolisis of water, with electricity coming out of clean, cheap, renewable sources, such as eolic and solar, can make possible not only the colonization and productive use of deserts, but also provide fuel for vehicles that may mean clean air in cities, with zero GHG’s emissions

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