12 Jun 19

Norwegian hydrogen station explosion raises safety questions

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have so far enjoyed a flawless safety reputation, but that has changed. On Monday, a hydrogen filling station in the Norwegian town of Sandvika (near Oslo) exploded, causing lots of material damage but fortunately no injuries.

That is: no direct injuries. However, the blast was reportedly so strong that airbags of nearby vehicles deployed, injuring at least two people. The busy E18 and E16 intersection was closed off for hours by the fire brigade.

The cause of the explosion is yet unknown. That is why operator Uno-X has closed its two other hydrogen stations in Norway (as announced on its website, a screenshot of which is pictured). Also, Toyota and Hyundai, who build hydrogen-powered vehicles, have suspended sales. As refuelling is impossible as long as the investigation is ongoing, current fuel cell vehicle drivers will receive a replacement vehicle.

If anything, the explosion is a blow to the safety reputation of hydrogen technology. CNG (compressed natural gas), a technology promoted by VW Group, also faced headwind a few years ago when several VW cars exploded during refilling. Since then, VW has issued a recall to fix the potentially explosive CNG tanks in its models.

In the case of the Norwegian hydrogen explosion, the problem arose at the station itself rather than the vehicle’s reservoir.

Authored by: Dieter Quartier