By Zenon Przybyszewski, North West Section Chair
In October, the North West Section visited Cumbria’s Spadeadam Testing & Research Centre to witness a number of different experiments demonstrating the behaviour of hydrogen.
Hosts Dan Allason and Past President of IGEM Andy Cummings welcomed delegates, who were treated to a light buffet and a chance to network before moving outside to observe an explosion and high pressure ignitions courtesy of DNV GL’s premier testing site.
The controlled explosion was fantastic to observe. Many of us have been involved in the aftermath of such events, but to see its violent force firsthand was a stunning experience.
We then moved on to the testing rigs for high pressure ignitions, fuelled by natural gas at 70bar. Two test ignitions were demonstrated, one from a leaking flange and one through a 20mm diameter hole. The force and heat generated by these demonstrations was an intense experience, especially as we were seeing and feeling the effects in darkness.
After removing our PPE and enjoying a welcome brew in the warmth of the conference facilities, Dan gave a presentation on DNV GL’s ongoing work on the H21 project. He told how a street has been constructed, complete with a terrace of test properties, to analyse the characteristics of hydrogen leakage from mains and services over 40 different scenarios.
Next, Andy presented a history of the site from its beginnings as a test site for Blue Streak, the UK’s part in the space race. Spadeadam has been used for many trials since to assess the effects of failures, including what would have happened if Guy Fawkes had succeeded.
This was truly a memorable visit to an unbelievable facility. Many thanks to the staff at DNV GL for giving their time to entertain us.