Required Infrastructure for commercialization of hydrogen fuel systems

In order to turn hydrogen into primary fuel, equipment and systems for production, distribution and basically all steps in the process of bringing hydrogen to its customers must be created. Fuel cell research is focused on production of non-polluting power source, and hydrogen is the best option right now, but the point is to generate that hydrogen through renewable process. Technology for this already exists, but infrastructure doesn’t.

Hydrogen can be produced by electrolysis and by fuel reforming.

Electrolysis of water is a process in which water is split in its elements and it is done in electrolyser. Electrolyser is described as reverse fuel cell because it does the opposite of fuel cell. While fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen in order to create electricity and water, electrolyser breaks down water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Main issue with this process is the source of electrical current needed for this process. Electricity that is generated by water or wind must be used in order to avoid leaving carbon footprint which would defeat the purpose of commercialization of hydrogen fuel systems. Even though electrolysers already exist, there isn’t any short-term plan of their commercial use.


Production of hydrogen through reforming of different types of fuel, both fossil and other fuel, can be done in two ways, external and internal reforming. Internal reforming is done within the fuel cell and external reforming is done before fuel reaches the fuel cell. External reforming can be done in two ways. It can be done in refinery or some kind of chemical plan, which would require pipelines that would deliver created hydrogen to the filling stations. Other way of external reforming can be done through reformers that would be integrated in fuel cells.


Steam reforming
  • Steam reforming is a well developed fuel reforming technology which involves mixing fuel with steam which happens in the presence of a catalyst (base metal) and this leads to production of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. This is the most efficient and cost effective way of generating hydrogen through fuel reforming.
Partial oxidation
  • Partial oxidation reforming is fuel reforming technology that works through reaction between hydrocarbon and oxygen which liberates hydrogen. It can be used to convert methane or other higher hydrocarbons into hydrogen. This reaction can be initiated by combustion process because this reaction is exothermic and it creates heat.
Autothermal reforming
  • Autothermal reforming combines endothermic steam reforming process and exothermic oxidation reaction to create very productive and compact way to create hydrogen. This system was already tested with methanol and gasoline and its results are very promising.

Storage of hydrogen has been very problematic issue due to low storage density of the hydrogen. But there are several solutions that have been considered for storage of high quantities of hydrogen. Hydrogen can be stored in tanks that would be able to withstand very high pressure in which hydrogen would be. This type of high pressured storage unit would be able to store hydrogen in its pure form or cooled down bellow critical point and stored as liquid. There are some metals that can absorb large quantities of hydrogen and in that way hydrogen can be storage in solid form.


Bunded Oil Storage Tanks

Bunding-Bunded oil storage tanks

Bunding includes secondary containment of fluids that is used to prevent leakage and contamination of nature. Not every storage device needs to be bunded, certain regulations are made to determine whether it is necessary or not.

Required Infrastructure for commercialization of hydrogen fuel systems

In order to turn hydrogen into primary fuel, equipment and systems for production, distribution and basically all steps in the process of bringing hydrogen to its customers must be created.


Bunding – Bunded oil storage tanks


Bunding includes secondary containment of fluids that is used to prevent leakage and contamination of nature.  Not every storage device needs to be bunded, certain regulations are made to determine whether it is necessary or not.

Oil spillage has extremely hazardous effects on environment and it poses immediate risk to people as well as wildlife and vegetation. Regular inspection and maintenance of oil tanks is required to ensure their condition and compliance to regulations. All containers that have capacity over 200 liters (in institutes or commercial and industrial sites) and over 3500 liters in domestic dwellings must have bunded storage tank or any other type of secondary containment which can contain a minimum of 110 percent of the maximum contents.


If a storage tank has at least one of the following conditions fulfilled, then it will be subjected to assessment for secondary containment which can be bunded tank or bund that is built around that tank:

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  • The container has capacity of 3500 liters or more
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  • It is located within 10 meters of water (stream, river, pond, lake and so on)
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  • Oil spillage of that container would go into an open drain or manhole cover that is loosely fitted
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  • It is located near (within 50 meters) a source of drinking water (well, borehole, spring)
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  • It is located on hard surfaced ground in which case the spillage would cause oil to enter some type of controlled water
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  • The container has capacity of 3500 liters or more

Release from a home heating oil tank.

Regulations for domestic oil storage tanks are a bit different. All domestic storage tanks for oil that have capacity over 2500 liters must have secondary containment. Storage tanks whose capacity is less than 2500 liters may need secondary containment depending on risk assessment of that site.

Oil storage tanks can be installed in the building as long as they have secondary containment and appropriate service access for maintenance crew. Those tanks can be built underground as well, but they must be specifically constructed for that and the installation of those underground oil tanks must be done in compliance with instructions from manufacturer.


Many people wonder whether it is better to use open bunded tank or double skin tank.

All open bunded oil storage tanks have a minimum 110 percent of liquid containment.  They are easily operated through extension handle and they have an option of complete shutdown of tank through gate valves.

Open bunded tanks can be easily cleaned if overfill occurs. Danger of cross contamination between different products is non-existent because both tank and bund can be visually checked. Tank can be removed from bund which makes maintenance and tank survey, and cleaning as well, much easier.

Double skin is considered as bunded tank if it has 110 percent of overfill capacity. Double skilled tank is a lot harder to clean if it comes to overfill. Visual check of void area and maintenance is also a lot harder than it is with open bunded tanks. Issues with dangerous effects can occur if the void area of double skinned tank is not properly cleaned and an overfill causes extreme reaction between to substances.