We have technologically advanced, safe ways of creating, storing and using hydrogen and as time goes on, these technologies will continue to advance and make hydrogen energy accessible to even more people.

As the world prepares for a fast-approaching Hydrogen Economy, allow us to set the record straight on Hydrogen safety and explain why the gas is much safer than many believe.

Hydrogen Safety HSA

“Oh, the humanity!”

The harrowing Herb Morrison broadcast on WLS Radio on May 6th, 1937, is one of the most distressing recordings of the 20th Century, as he provided commentary of the Hindenburg catching alight and crashing into the ground as a fireball in New Jersey.

The accompanying footage of flames, the skeleton of the craft plunging to the earth, with people running for their lives is no less difficult to watch.

Not only did the Hindenburg disaster spell the end of airship travel, it also cast hydrogen in a negative light that has been hard to dismiss more than 80 years since  the aviation tragedy.

What we know now is that there was more than one contributing factor to the demise of the Hindenburg, including the external material on the craft, partially created with substances that are also used to produce jet fuel.

Yes, hydrogen played a role, but it was a series of events that led to the “perfect storm” of combustion that has since been investigated at length by scientists trying to find definitive reasons for the disaster.

No matter the discussions, debunking, debating and testing, the legacy of hydrogen still remains at the forefront of one’s mind as the No.1 cause of this tragedy.

Today, with all eyes on hydrogen as a clean, green renewable saviour for our planet, there’s still the issue of misinformation doing the rounds about ’safety’. We ask hydrogen enthusiast Brian Power, executive director at Hydrogen Systems Australia, for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

HSA Brian Power

“Hydrogen is the safest gas we have. It doesn’t hang around. Hydrogen is light, dissipating easily in the event of a leak. It doesn’t contribute to global warming and is kind to our natural environment.” ~ Brian Power

Q&A with HSA’s Brian Power

Q1. What do you believe has contributed to Hydrogen having a bad rap?

BP: People unnecessarily associate the perceived dangers of hydrogen with the Hindenburg, and that stigma is still around. We are no longer in the 1930s. We have technologically advanced, safe ways of creating, storing and using hydrogen. And, as time goes on, these technologies will continue to advance and make hydrogen energy accessible to even more people.

Q2. What are the impacts of this misguided view of hydrogen?

BP: We delay important projects and initiatives that could already have been contributing to a safer planet, removing our reliance on fossil fuels and reducing carbon emissions.

Q3. How can we make hydrogen safer?

BP: Education about the benefits of hydrogen, together with safety, is essential. On our HSA team, we have a full member of the Australian Standards Committee ME-093 Hydrogen Technologies. This group provides guidance and standards in a number of areas including production, handling, storage, end uses and applications.

Also, essential as we progress to a hydrogen economy will be training and upskilling of new and existing workers to safely work with hydrogen and associated technologies.

As fossil fuel driven power plants continue to close, re-training existing gas or coal fire plant workers to pivot their stills to hydrogen infrastructure will ensure continuity of jobs and further strengthen the economy.

Q4. What is it about hydrogen that makes it a safer option for energy than fuel, electricity or liquefied natural gas?

BP: Hydrogen is the safest gas we have. It doesn’t hang around. Hydrogen is light, dissipating easily in the event of a leak. It doesn’t contribute to global warming and is kind to our natural environment. Hydrogen is versatile and can be used in many sectors as a fuel or energy source, decreasing our reliance on nasty fossil fuels.

Hydrogen fuel is gaining traction globally

As we have discussed in previous blogs, the potential for hydrogen to be used as a fuel and energy source are many and varied.

The hydrogen mobility sector, where trains, buses, cars and trucks are fuelled with hydrogen, is continuing to gain traction throughout the world with many vehicle manufacturing companies already releasing or committing to the release of hydrogen cars in the near future.

There is no doubt that the stigma of safety lingers, particularly when it comes to fuel tanks, these images are often unfairly assisted by large, graphic explosions that we see in movies. Imagine: if petrol is that flammable that it causes explosions, what would hydrogen do?!

Well, here is what it does!

Or doesn’t do. Quite the letdown. And yes, we believe that woman is the actress who was in Baywatch.

And here’s another one. Want to see a bullet fired at a hydrogen tank for a Toyota Mirai? All it shows is the hydrogen escaping the tank. No explosion. No special effects. Again, so disappointing!

And finally, here’s another fancier video about hydrogen in Hyundai Nexus cars.

Environmentally friendly

Let’s strip the videos down to some key points about hydrogen and safety:

  • Hydrogen is non-toxic. Any leaks do not contaminate the surrounding areas
  • Hydrogen is 14 times lighter than air, dissipating rapidly if there is a leak
  • Hydrogen is 57 times lighter than petrol vapour which can pool at ground level, causing a significant ignition risk
  • Hydrogen flames emit low radiant energy, meaning they are less likely to spread

As Hydrogen Systems Australia’s Head of Engineering and Operations, Matthias Wagenfeld, says: “For environmentally sensitive areas, hydrogen is the perfect solution. If diesel spills, it contaminates the surrounding earth and water. If hydrogen spills, there are no pollutants – it goes straight up into the air.”

There are risks and dangers, no question

Of course, there is still a risk and danger with hydrogen, if it is not used or stored correctly.

Hydrogen burns with an invisible flame, has a wide explosive range, and you cannot smell, see or taste it. This is why it is pertinent that hydrogen systems are created, installed and maintained by those who have experience with hydrogen, taking into consideration ventilation, leak detection, safe handling and choice of materials- including those for storage tanks and transportation.

As hydrogen begins to be more widely used in commercial, industrial, mobility and eventually residential markets, we will also see new, updated and more stringent standards pertaining to the production, installation and use of hydrogen with the aim of further establishing this amazing, clean, green gas as our energy source of the future.


Hydrogen Systems Australia is an Australian company engaged in selling, commissioning, installing, maintaining and servicing of hydrogen production and hydrogen utilisation equipment.

Our expertise lies in system integration with over 40 years of experience in the hydrogen industry and over 200 years of experience in complimentary industries including innovation, project management, engineering, nanotechnology and governance.

We are future focussed with significant in-roads already being made into our new technologies that future proof our organisation and initiate generational change.

Our systems offer revenue streams and for rural and remote communities, energy that doesn’t rely on diesel. These projects will support local economies and manufacturing sectors, contribute to Australia’s energy security and reduce our carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels.

Investment in Hydrogen Systems Australia will be strategically placed into several key areas of our business to assist with the growth and development of the organisation.

Funding will be used to source the best talent, contribute towards Research and Development and future manufacturing and most importantly, will fund an Australian-owned, values focused organisation that promotes ethical and sustainable profitability to create a healthier world for generations to come.


Renee Golland

About Renee Golland

Experienced Marketing, Communications and Product Manager with a history of working in the scientific and renewable energy industries for more than 15 years.