Hydrogen Safety Training for First Responders
Linda L. Fassbender, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The use of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies is emerging in the U.S. through vehicle demonstration programs and early deployments of fuel cells for onsite power generation, materials handling, and other applications. To help first responders prepare for hydrogen and fuel cell use in their communities, the U.S. Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Program has developed hydrogen safety training for first responders. A web-based awareness-level course, "Introduction to Hydrogen Safety for First Responders," launched in 2007, is available athttp://hydrogen.pnl.gov/FirstResponders. Approximately 17,000 first responders have accessed the online training.

An operations-level course, "Hydrogen Emergency Response Training for First Responders," was initially offered in 2009. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory leads this training effort, in collaboration with the Volpentest HAMMER Training and Education Center and the California Fuel Cell Partnership. The classroom instruction portion of the operations-level course covers:

  • Comparison of the properties of hydrogen with those of other commonly used fuels
  • The basics of how a fuel cell operates
  • Hydrogen vehicles, components, and safety systems
  • Stationary facilities that store, dispense, and use hydrogen, and their safety systems
  • Emergency response principles for both hydrogen vehicles and stationary facilities

There is also a hands-on, live-fire exercise using a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV) burn prop constructed by Kidde Fire Trainers. This prop demonstrates potential conditions that could be encountered during the control and suppression of a FCV fire. It generates a propane flame that simulates a vehicle compartment fire, and hydrogen gas can be emitted and ignited from three vent locations -- on the roof, on the trunk deck, and below the trunk. Hydrogen flames are not visible in daylight, but are viewed through a thermal imaging camera during the training exercise.

In 2010, operations-level classes were held at the HAMMER facility in Richland, WA; the Rio Hondo Community College Fire Academy in Santa Fe Springs, CA; the Orange County Fire Authority in Irvine, CA; and the Sunnyvale Public Safety Department in Sunnyvale, CA. To date, 371 first responders have been trained in the operations-level curriculum. Courses are being planned for other U.S. locations during 2011. For further information, please contact Mr. Monte Elmore, PNNL, (509) 372-6158. 

Hydrogen Safety Knowledge Tools
Linda L. Fassbender, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

With hydrogen gaining acceptance as an energy carrier for fuel cell vehicles, industrial trucks, and stationary fuel cell applications, a new community of hydrogen users is emerging and continues to grow. With this growth has come the need to spread the word about safe practices for handling, storing, and using hydrogen. Like all energy forms, hydrogen can be used safely through proper procedures and engineering techniques. However, hydrogen involves a degree of risk that must be respected, and the importance of avoiding complacency or haste in the safe conduct and performance of projects involving hydrogen cannot be overstated. 

To encourage and promote the safe use of hydrogen, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has developed and continues to enhance two software tools in support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Program: the Hydrogen Safety Best Practices online manual (www.H2BestPractices.org) and the Hydrogen Incident Reporting and Lessons Learned database (www.H2Incidents.org). 

Hydrogen Safety Best Practices Manual
There is a wealth of knowledge and experience related to the safe use of hydrogen as a result of an extensive history in a wide variety of industrial and aerospace settings. The Hydrogen Safety Best Practices online manual, "H2BestPractices.org," captures the vast knowledge base of hydrogen experience and makes it publicly available—providing suggestions and recommendations on the safe handling and use of hydrogen in various settings. Best practices are techniques or methodologies that have reliably produced desired results in the past. Following best practices shows a commitment to using available knowledge and technology to achieve safety. Alternatively, not using best practices could introduce unnecessary risks. 

H2BestPractices.org gathers and organizes information from many references and resources into an easy-to-use web-based manual that complements existing resources. PNNL teams with its Hydrogen Safety Panel and other subject matter experts to compile hydrogen-specific best practices from a variety of references, and the website provides links to web-based resources and PDF files. 

H2BestPractices.org is organized into three major sections, as shown below. 



Hydrogen Properties· Focused mainly on hydrogen combustion and liquid hydrogen expansion
· Compares key properties of hydrogen and commonly used fuels

Safety Practices
(management-oriented)· Safety Culture
· Safety Planning
· Incident Procedures
· Communications

Design and Operations
(engineering-oriented)· Facility Design Considerations
· Storage and Piping
· Operating Procedures
· Equipment Maintenance
· Laboratory Safety

H2BestPractices.org provides many links to safety event records in the Hydrogen Incident Reporting and Lessons Learned database that illustrate the kinds of incidents and near-misses that can occur if hydrogen safety best practices are not followed. 

Input and questions from users are always welcome. Users from all over the world have commented on website content and requested more detailed information and guidance using the website’s comment submittal feature. 

Future plans include enhancing website content and adding new content. A new section on indoor refueling of hydrogen-powered industrial trucks is currently in progress, with assistance from industry experts. 

Hydrogen Incident Reporting and Lessons Learned Database
Hydrogen safety risks and hazards, along with the mitigation strategies undertaken to manage or eliminate them, should not be considered proprietary information. The entire hydrogen community benefits from sharing important lessons learned. The Hydrogen Incident Reporting and Lessons Learned database, "H2Incidents.org," collects information and shares lessons learned from hydrogen-related incidents and near-misses to prevent similar safety events from occurring again. 

H2Incidents.org facilitates open sharing of lessons learned from hydrogen safety events by encouraging both public- and private-sector organizations to voluntarily submit records of hydrogen incidents and near-misses and to provide lessons learned. All identifying information (names of companies/organizations and locations) is removed for confidentiality and to encourage the unconstrained reporting of events. 

New incidents and lessons learned are obtained by reviewing and following up on news reports about hydrogen incidents and searching existing databases and literature for hydrogen-related safety event records. Users can also submit lessons learned directly using the website. Specific safety event records are linked to the Hydrogen Safety Best Practices online manual to emphasize safe practices for working with hydrogen and preventing future incidents. The PNNL Hydrogen Safety Panel provides expert review of safety events and lessons learned, with emphasis on fully capturing lessons learned. 

During the past year, new records were added to the database from DOE projects, private companies, and the member countries of the International Energy Agency's Hydrogen Implementing Agreement Task 19 (Hydrogen Safety). There are now 192 records in the database, and many more are in progress. 

Every safety event record in the database is characterized by the information listed below. Graphical software has recently been incorporated to enable bar-graph format display of the five characteristics marked with an asterisk.

Characteristics of Each Safety Event Record

  • Description of event
  • Severity of event (was hydrogen released and was there ignition)
  • Setting *
  • Equipment *
  • Hydrogen characteristics (high pressure or low temperature)
  • Extent of damages and/or injuries *
  • Probable cause of event *
  • Contributing factors *
  • Lessons learned
  • Mitigation steps taken to prevent similar events in the future

Users can access incident records in a number of different ways. On the home page, links to the latest posted incident records appear in the box labeled "Latest Reports." The bottom of this box shows the total number of incident records in the system. By clicking the "show all" text next to this number, a complete alphabetical list of incidents can be viewed.

The left navigation feature helps the user look for incidents related to specific characteristics: Settings, Equipment, Damage and Injuries, Probable Causes, and Contributing Factors. To obtain a graphical representation of the number of incidents associated with each of these main headings, the user simply clicks on the heading and then "mouses over" the chart to view a larger image. The Advanced Search found at the top of the page provides additional options for searching the database.

This year, a new quarterly Lessons Learned Corner was created to analyze and present hydrogen safety themes illustrated with database content. This feature can be accessed from the website’s homepage. So far, lessons learned have been analyzed for the following themes: Management of Change (March 2010), Working with Reactive Metal-Hydride Materials in the Laboratory (May 2010), The Importance of Purging Hydrogen Piping and Equipment (September 2010), and Hydrogen Use in Anaerobic Chambers (December 2010).

Future work will focus on adding more incidents and lessons learned to the database and continuing to provide the safety event analysis in the Lessons Learned Corner. Much of this will involve working with the national laboratories, universities, and private-sector firms that experience hydrogen incidents or near-misses to help them communicate what happened, what the primary causes and contributing factors were, and most importantly, what lessons they learned that could benefit others. 

Taking an Issue Forward
Robert Wichert, FCHEA Staff

With the merger of the US Fuel Cell Council and the National Hydrogen Association now complete, I'd like to take the opportunity to remind members of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA), as well as other interested parties, on the opportunities available to raise an issue relating to safety, codes, standards and regulations for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

There are several ways to achieve this, depending on the subject of the issue. The most straight-forward approach for issues that relate to existing FCHEA Working Groups is to attend the Working Group meetings. If it is a Transportation issue, attend a Transportation meeting and bring up your concerns. If it is a Portable issue, attend a Portable meeting. If it is Power Generation, attend a Power Generation meeting. If you are unsure how to do this, please contact me atWichert@fchea.org. Even if you are not a member of FCHEA, you can call in and participate. 

Another opportunity is to consider attending an IEC or ISO US TAG meeting, Working Group or Committee meeting or NFPA, or CSA meeting or other appropriate venue directly as an expert. I can also help you to do that, if you wish.

The National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Codes & Standards Coordinating Committee (NHFCCSCC) meetings are also appropriate, regularly scheduled, venues for such discussions, and represent a good opportunity to raise issues informally with a large group of experts and stakeholders. Many new working groups and task force groups have been started as a result of discussions held during these meetings. These are held by web-meeting every month, typically on the first Wednesday of the month. If you would like to participate in these and are not currently receiving the invitations, please contact Chad Blake at NREL (Chad.Blake@nrel.gov) to be added to the meeting announcement distribution list.

The Hydrogen Industry Panel on Codes (HIPOC) meetings provide an opportunity to discuss issues relating to harmonization of the US codes for hydrogen technologies. For more information on HIPOC and contact information, click here.

If you are still unsure which venue is most appropriate, or would like to discuss your concern with me directly, please contact me atWichert@fchea.org or by telephone at +1 916 966 9060.

Invitation to Participate in PATH Roundtables on Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Standards, Commercial Roll-Out Options and Academic Partnerships
Brian Schorr, PATH Program Manager

The Partnership for Advancing the Transition to Hydrogen (PATH) is rescheduling the Roundtable Workshop On Market Introductions For Fuel Cells & Hydrogen Technologies until Sunday, 15 May 2011 from 1-3 pm (local Pacific Time) in conjunction with Hydrogen + Fuel Cells 2011 (www.HFC2011.com), Vancouver, BC, Canada. It was originally scheduled for this this Sunday, 13 February.

Join us as we explore challenges to market introduction through a dynamic set of discussions during this interactive two-hour session. The Roundtable precedes a special Conference session on Canadian Research Networks, so as you make your travel arrangements to Hydrogen + Fuel Cells 2011, plan to arrive early.

Roundtable Format
The session will begin with introductory remarks from PATH Chairman Terry Kimmel, followed by a breakout session of three Roundtable discussions with moderators and recorders to facilitate those discussions. The session will conclude as the group reconvenes to summarize the discussions, report on results, present concluding remarks, and set goals for follow up action items. Hors d'oeuvres will be provided.

The following discussion topics are offered:

  • Roundtable I: "International Standards and Regulations for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells" – An interactive discussion designed to identify international Codes & Standards needs from the individual country perspective, prioritize those needs, and outline a plan for achieving them.

  • Roundtable II: "Vehicle Roll Out Options" – Harmonizing plans across borders to introduce vehicles and infrastructure into the global marketplace.

  • Roundtable III: "Academic Partnerships" – Identifying university curriculums and seeking international exchange programs for students and professors, as well as establishing opportunities for other transnational curriculum development.

  • Alternate Roundtable III (or Roundtable IV): "PATH Annual Report on World Progress in Hydrogen" – With the development of an annual comprehensive assessment of the hydrogen and fuel cell economy, a roundtable discussion will explore key topics that are necessary to complete publication. This Report will be the reference on what is happening in each country, from research programs and funding, to data on hydrogen vehicles, material handling, remote power and other markets.

This PATH Event is open to the public but space is limited.Registration is required and forms are available on PATH's website (www.HPATH.org). International participation is strongly encouraged to ensure robust input to shape the Roundtable conclusions!

Hydrogen Safety, Codes and Standards Activities Currently Planned in Conjunction with the 2011 Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Conference
Karen Hall, Technology Transition Corporation

Plans are well underway for the 2011 Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Conference, which will be held February 13-16 in the Washington, DC area.

This conference was formerly known as the NHA Hydrogen Conference and Expo. 

We are planning two technical sessions dedicated to safety, codes and standards. The first is a parallel session on Monday February 14th. The second is a parallel session on Tuesday February 15th, which also happens to be Public Day for this year's show. 

Parallel Session 1
Codes & Standards 1
Moderator: Jay Keller, Sandia National Laboratories

Parallel Session 3
Codes & Standards 2
Moderator: Jay Keller, Sandia National Laboratories

Information on conference keynote and technical sessions, vehicle ride-and-drives, live demonstrations and more is available online athttp://www.fuelcellandhydrogenenergy.org