Elta solves hydrogen safety dilemma 24 November 2023

Elta Fans Applied Technology Helical Technology

Mark Gallifant, Elta Fans Applied Technology’s business development manager, has explained how collaboration helped solve a hydrogen safety dilemma at Helical Technology.

In industries that work with potentially dangerous gases and substances, the importance of risk-mitigating strategies is critical. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can provide peace of mind to those working on shop floors near to volatile substances, such as hydrogen.

Helical Technology is a company specialising in the provision of solutions for problems in challenging conditions.

One such challenge came about in February 2023. Mostafa Koochak, senior test engineer at Helical Technology, was tasked with designing a new test cell at the company’s Warton testing facility. The test cell was intended for testing large diesel engines that go into heavy goods vehicles (HGV), ranging from 12L to 20L in size.

As part of the testing process, hydrogen is supplied to the engines. Being an explosive gas and potentially volatile substance, any hydrogen leaks or escapes from the engine must immediately be extracted from the test cell to avoid sudden ignition and explosion to avoid potentially disastrous outcomes.

With the extraction of any potential hydrogen leaks a crucial factor, Koochak set about scoping out the specification of a fan that would sit in a fume hood above the test cell. Helical Technology had previously used Elta Fans in similar projects unbeknown to Koochak when he initially embarked on this new proposal.

On inspecting a label found within an existing exhaust unit as part of his research, Koochak found an Elta Fan from 2010. Mostafa then contacted Elta Fans’s Applied Technology sales team to see if they could support in specifying a fan for the new test cell.

From the label of the previous fan used in an older Helical exhaust unit from Elta Fans, the sales team was able to advise Koochak on the specification of the fan before passing him on to Gallifant to help specify the new unit for the fume hood. As part of the process, Gallifant also advised Koochak with various other elements of the project, including the running of calculations and simulations for the air flow pattern in the test cell.

The resulting product was a bifurcated axial fan designed to sit in the fume hood, continuously running on a ‘low power mode’ during testing to extract fumes as part of a risk-mitigation strategy. If hydrogen is detected, the test cell control system will increase the fan speed to extract the leakage immediately.

The bifurcated axial fan supplied by Elta Fans has a nominal diameter of 560mm and hub size of 150mm with an axial, aluminium impeller. Running at a fan speed of 2,880 r/min and with a motor power of 4.00kW, the fan is capable of moving 3.21 m3/s of air – meeting the necessary airflow performance as detailed by Mostafa.

The fan is now live and in operation at Helical Technology’s test facility, following installation in September 2023, providing constant protection to the test cell and people in the building.

Operations Engineer

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