Choosing the Best Metal Hose for Hydrogen Applications

By: Frank Caprio | On: January 30, 2024
Hydrogen plant with metal hoses
  • Selecting the Right Hose
  • Metallic or Non-Metallic Hose?
  • Material Selection
  • Fire Safety
  • Inspections
  • Working With a Trusted Supplier

The Importance of Selecting the Right Hose

In the rapidly evolving world of hydrogen, selecting the right hose is an essential (and often overlooked) component that can significantly impact the performance, safety, and efficiency of your overall system.

Hydrogen can be stored as a gas, a cryogenic liquid, or contained in liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC) like ammonia and methanol. For hydrogen fueling systems, it is crucial to consider high pressures (up to 10,000 psi) and design piping, storage, and transfer systems accordingly.

In this article, we will discuss the intricacies of hydrogen applications and empower you to make an informed decision about your hose requirements--ensuring optimal performance and longevity for your hydrogen systems.

4 Key Considerations for Hydrogen Applications

1. Non-Metal or Metal Hose?

The choice of metallic or non-metallic hoses depends on operating conditions. Indoor use of non-metallic hoses should be avoided due to the issue of hydrogen permeation through their walls unless appropriate leak detection and ventilation systems are in place. Metal hoses offer superior resistance to permeation and are recommended for enclosed or poorly ventilated areas. When used outdoors, metal hoses outperform non-metallic alternatives in withstanding the elements. However, high-pressure rubber hoses may be required for hydrogen fueling applications. With fueling hoses typically located outside, permeation through the wall of a rubber hose is generally not considered a safety concern. It is important to note that both metallic and non-metallic hoses may require special cleaning procedures for high-purity applications such as fuel cells and semiconductor manufacturing.

2. Material Selection Matters

Effective hose material selection involves considering multiple variables and taking necessary precautions to ensure safe performance. As mentioned, the available embrittlement testing data on alloys is limited--particularly those experiencing bending stresses in metal hoses. Conducting product testing under actual conditions of operation is advisable for evaluating an alloy's resistance to embrittlement. Caution should be exercised when reviewing published analyses on rigid metal alloys, as they may not accurately reflect the alloys' resistance to hydrogen embrittlement under cyclic loading (flexing).

3. Assess Fire Safety

When the application demands a fire-resistant hose, corrugated metal hose is the optimal choice. While external insulation can provide temporary protection for non-metallic hoses, they are not designed to render rubber hoses fireproof. Metal hoses can withstand high temperatures and are suitable for use in various applications where extreme temperatures or fire risks exist.

4. Don't Skip Out On Inspections

Regular hose inspections are crucial to maintaining the performance and longevity of any hose type. When examining rubber hoses, be on the lookout for external wear, blistering, loose fittings, kinking, or overbending. All end fittings should be inspected for damage. Remove rubber hoses from service if the reinforcement layer becomes visible. Corrugated metal hoses should be examined for signs of braid wear, dents, damage, overbending, and corrosion. It is essential to periodically test all hoses to ensure they can withstand the required operating conditions. Hydrostatic testing can be utilized, provided that the hose is thoroughly cleaned and dried before being put back into service.

Invest in Your Supplier

Working with a trusted supplier like Hose Master is imperative to ensure safety and reliability in these critical applications. Not only must the hose and fittings be of the highest quality, but the skill of the fabricator is crucially important as the welding processes used will also have a significant effect on the assembly’s cycle life. That’s why Hose Master’s welders are certified to Section IX of the ASME Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code, as well as various international standards and specifications. We also offer welder training to our distributors to help refine their fabricating abilities.

Our team understands the complexities involved in selecting the right hose for your hydrogen application and can provide personalized recommendations based on our deep market insight. With over 40 years of experience, Hose Master has established itself as a leading manufacturer and supplier of metal hoses and expansion joints. Make the smart choice for your operations and ensure safety, efficiency, and durability by contacting us today.