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Automation solutions for the hydrogen industry: Clean, safe and reliable

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04 June 2024 | Pilz Skandinavien

Everyone is talking about hydrogen! The energy carrier plays a crucial role in the energy turnaround and climate neutrality. It is used in industry, for example, when steelmaking, in the glass industry, for mobility as fuel for transport vehicles or for electricity reconversion. However, there are safety risks involved with hydrogen because the gas is highly flammable, as well as colourless and odourless. Accidents during production, transport or use can have major consequences for human, plant and environment. So to make hydrogen sustainable, the way it is handled must be completely safe and secure. That is the only way to fully exploit the energy carrier’s potential.

In the hydrogen industry, the solutions to safety tasks frequently involve material properties and mechanical dimensioning. The more robust the shut-off valves, for example, the safer they are to use. Proven solutions from automation technology can be a valuable addition to these classic safety functions. That’s because they help to always consider safety as an integral function of the plant, machinery and the correlations in the process. Automation solutions can take on the task of dynamic pressure and temperature monitoring or safe adherence to the load limits of downstream structures, for example.

Safety from production through to use

From the hydrogen production process through to its use – holistic safety solutions from Pilz offer added value for the whole added value chain for hydrogen. Our control systems reliably detect gas leaks through the evaluation of gas detectors. They safely monitor temperature, pressure, fill level, voltage and current. And in an emergency the systems initiate an emergency stop. They can detect faults within milliseconds and quickly initiate pre-defined safety measures.

These safety functions are essential on a hydrogen refuelling station, for example. This comprises a compression area in which the gas can be compressed up to 1000 bar, a cooling system, high-pressure storage tanks and finally the fuel pump. In France, our automation system PSS 4000 already guarantees safety when hydrogen is dispensed at several public filling stations.

Holistic approach to Safety and Security

A holistic approach includes not just functional safety but also Industrial Security. This describes the protection of production and industrial plants from manipulation or misuse – whether intentional or otherwise. If attackers have the opportunity to penetrate automation and control systems, the safety of the plant, and ultimately the safety of human and environment also, can be put at risk. One example is a remote connection to a container for hydrogen production, to check the system status. This connection must be protected, otherwise the safety-related part of the system can be controlled or modified without authorisation. To protect humans and environment, functional safety must be guaranteed when handling hydrogen. Proven safety principles from the automation industry can achieve this, because they contribute to making hydrogen not just clean, but also safe and secure.

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Pilz Skandinavien

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Pilz is a global supplier of automation components, systems and services. We never compromise when it comes to safety for human, machine and the environment. As a family business steeped in tradition, with a worldwide presence, our aim is to be a reliable partner for you locally.

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In everything we do, we want to make the world a safer place. This is apparent in each product and solution from Pilz that considers both machinery safety and security requirements. We always focus on our customers

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Erik Hynding Møller

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