Like diesel and gasoline, hydrogen is flammable and must be handled carefully. Yet in many ways, hydrogen is as safe or safer than other fuels. Because hydrogen is 14 times lighter than air, a leak in a hydrogen tank poses less of a threat than a comparable leak in a gasoline tank; the hydrogen would dissipate rapidly into the air. What’s more, hydrogen is not toxic and doesn’t pollute.
|Irritating to the skin and eyes||Yes||No|
|Toxic to breathe||Yes||No|
|Poisonous to ingest||Yes||No|
|Causes particulate pollution||Yes||No|
|Produces nitrogen oxide (NOx), a precursor of smog||Yes||No|
|Causes global warming||Yes||No|
|Lingers after a spill, posing a fire danger||Yes||No|
For over 50 years, hydrogen has been produced, transported, and used safely throughout the country. U.S. industry currently uses over 100 billion cubic feet of hydrogen a year in everything from welding supplies to hydrogenated vegetable oils in peanut butter. If all this hydrogen were used as an energy carrier, it would be enough to fuel as many as 30 million cars.
We have all learned to handle highly flammable substances safely; we do it every time we gas up our cars. Many of the safety precautions we take with hydrogen will look pretty familiar:
- No smoking at fueling stations
- Authorized personnel only in fueling and maintenance areas
- Well-ventilated areas for maintenance work
- Easily-located emergency shut-off buttons
- State-of-the-art, carbon-fiber tanks that are far stronger than ordinary gas tanks
- Hydrogen tanks on the buses are placed on the roof so that in the event of a leak, the lighter-than-air gas will dissipate more easily
- On-going training
All AC Transit drivers and mechanics are trained to handle their equipment and materials safely. Whenever we introduce new equipment and materials to our employees, we provide the training to keep our people and our community safe.