Between 2016 and 2020, fire-related accidents killed 35 people every day in India, according to the data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Increasing consumption of flammable fuels have also added to the risk of fuel-caused explosions.

This is where ATOM, a companythat “provides tested and easy integration fuel storage solutions” to prevent fuel explosions comes in.

Establishing in 2011, with the aim of finding a solution for safely transporting oil and gas, the company gained initial momentum when the Special Protection Group (SPG) was looking for explosion-resistant fuel tanks for their VIP bulletproof vehicles. This marked the starting point of ATOM’s journey in providing bulletproof and explosion-resistant solutions for vehicles, saysVinod Menon, CTO of the company.

Since then, they have successfully developed various products for the safe storage and transportation of hydrocarbon fuels. They have also expanded its expertise to include pressurised vessels for LPG and propane.

The science behind it

Ninety per cent of global accidents result from human error, with major explosions often originating from small, mobile fuel storage tanks, says Ajit Tharoor, CEO, ATOM.

Their technology involves the addition of a proprietary alloy inside fuel storage tanks. This alloy takes care of the explosive vapour inside the tanks by employing flame quenching techniques.

Without the addition of any mechanical, chemical or electrical triggers, this simple physical solution breaks the vapour down into smaller units, allowing for confined burning through the process of ‘controlled deflagration’.

In addition, the alloy’s high heat conductivity reduces hot points and structured packing optimises tank volume without compromising on the fuel’s capacity. These principles collectively make the technology effective in preventing explosions inside fuel tanks.

The alloy structures itself into a honey comb structure and fills more than 85 per cent of the tank so that there are no hot points. The fuel is distributed within the molecules of the honey comb structure which causes it to burn inside but prevents it from exploding.

The company said that it has also entered into a research and development agreement with the Foundation for Science Innovation and Development, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

“This is part of ATOM’s road map towards research on multiple fronts to actively innovate and develop explosion-resistant fuel tanks and storages tailored for future fuels, including hydrogen,” says a release from the company.

Beyond this, the technology also addresses carbon footprint concerns, says Tharoor. As the tech utilises an alloy with high conductivity to address evaporation loss during fuel transportation, there is potential to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation by up to 60 per cent, says Tharoor.

While many countries have given ATOM the go-ahead to enter their markets, the Indian Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) has yet to approve the technology. Since “it’s a completely new set of technology, they have no idea how to certify it,” says Anil Nair, Chairman of ATOM. The start-up applied for approval two years ago.

As they wait for approval, they continue conducting trials with the Indian Army to store fuel at high altitudes and deserts.

“We must react to which market comes to us faster, but for us, the prime market is India, and we hope India will soon turn around for us,” hopes Nair.