June 2005 Minutes of the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Codes & Standards Coordinating Committee
Russell Hewett, NREL

NFPA World Safety Conference & Exposition® Features Hydrogen Safety Symposium
Karen Hall, National Hydrogen Association

NFPA Consolidation of Hydrogen Requirements Update
Karen Hall, National Hydrogen Association

US Fuel Cell Council Hosts First ISO/TC 197 Ad Hoc Group on Hydrogen Components
Randy Dey, CCS Global Group

ICC's Ad Hoc Committee for Hydrogen Gas
Patrick Serfass, National Hydrogen Association
Darren Meyers, ICC (contributing)

Hybrid Vehicles Pose New Breed of Rescue Risks
Shana Gruskin, Sun Sentinel
Reprinted from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

About this Site

NFPA World Safety Conference & Exposition® Features Hydrogen Safety Symposium
Karen Hall, National Hydrogen Association

NFPA held a special symposium on hydrogen safety in conjunction with the NFPA World Safety Conference & Exposition® in Las Vegas, NV. The symposium was held June 6-7, 2005, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Convention Center.

This symposium explored the safety issues associated with the refueling and storage infrastructure required for hydrogen vehicles. Presentations included an overview of hydrogen vehicle technology, the general and NFPA regulatory framework for hydrogen, issues associated with fuel cells and their storage, and field experience gained in the design, permitting, and construction of hydrogen energy stations. The Fire Protection Research Foundation sponsored this symposium.

Carl Rivkin, Senior Chemical Engineer with the National Fire Protection Association started the symposium off with a presentation that provided an overview on hydrogen technology and safety. [Download the presentation - 1,926Kb PDF] Topics discussed included the physical properties of hydrogen and its hazards, the general regulatory framework for hydrogen, and NFPA hydrogen codes and standards. Anthony Eggert of the University of California at Davis and Dr. Monterey Gardiner of the California Fuel Cell Partnership discussed the unique safety challenges presented by hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

William Houf and Bob Schefer of Sandia National Laboratories began the second day with their presentation on a combined experimental and modeling program being carried out at Sandia National Laboratories. This program characterizes and predicts the behavior of large-scale hydrogen releases from high-pressure hydrogen storage devices. Andrei Tchouvelev of A.V.Tchouvelev & Associates Inc. followed with a presentation on the results of CFD modeling of hydrogen releases. He also related how the results were applied to determine the appropriate clearance distances for venting of hydrogen storage. The University of California at Davis' Jonathan Weinert then offered his presentation on the real world experience of building a hydrogen refueling station at Los Angeles International Airport. William Chernicoff of the Department of Transportation closed the symposium his presentation concerning new demands the hydrogen economy will place on the transporting of hydrogen and first responder safety.

In addition, the Hydrogen Coordinating Group met on Monday, June 6th.

Kathleen Almand, Executive Director of the Foundation, provided an update on the NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation hydrogen technology projects. Chris Moen of Sandia Laboratories discussed risk analysis procedures and how they might be used in code development. Carl Rivkin led a discussion on NFPA hydrogen codes and standards activities, specifically the proposal to the NFPA Standards Council to consolidate all hydrogen safety requirements in a single document. 

HYDROGEN Coordinating Group Web Sitewww.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=832&itemID=20951 

NFPA general web site

NHA will post information on how to obtain proceedings from these meetings, when available.

NFPA Consolidation of Hydrogen Requirements Update
Karen Hall, National Hydrogen Association

The NFPA Standards Council, which oversees all of the code and standard activity at NFPA, has received a request to create a new hydrogen technologies code. Currently hydrogen technology requirements are addressed in several NFPA documents that are the responsibility of different technical committees. This document would consolidate all existing NFPA hydrogen technology requirements into a single document and would also be expanded to fill in any gaps in existing NFPA hydrogen safety requirements.

NFPA has at least 8 documents that would be part of the consolidation process and these 8 documents are the responsibility of 8 different NFPA technical committees. This can make coordination difficult. The Standards Council is looking for input on the idea of consolidating all of the NFPA hydrogen requirements into a single document. NHA staff has requested member comments in order to form an NHA position on whether there is industry support for a "NFPA 2 Hydrogen Code" document.

There are pros and cons of this type of approach. In fact, industry did not support a similar proposal from ICC three years ago. At that time, industry felt that it is important to include the hydrogen requirements in the applicable code, such as the fuel gas code or the mechanical code. In the case of the ICC's International Fuel Gas Code, the compromise was reached to have a separate chapter on hydrogen in the code. Members of the code committee raised concerns that the code had been specifically written for gases with different properties and used at very low pressures. Therefore, materials compatibility as well as assumptions on pressures built into the codes could result in incompatibility of the document with planned hydrogen use.

On the other hand, having a separate code allows all hydrogen requirements to be collated into a single document, which could improve the ease of use for the code official as well as the project planner. It also provides an opportunity for a Technical Committee utilizing hydrogen energy experts to oversee this consolidated code.

During the Hydrogen Coordinating Group meeting on June 7, concerns were raised about the implications of a possible consolidation on hydrogen requirements for industrial uses. It was also suggested that another solution might be the consolidation of requirements for a particular application, such as hydrogen refueling stations.

Carl Rivkin, Senior Chemical Engineer at NFPA has stated, "The purpose of consolidating requirements would be to put them all in one document that is developed by hydrogen experts. This would increase ease of use, ensure consistency, and create a committee that has broad expertise in hydrogen technologies. The hydrogen requirements would no longer be in the documents that they were removed from."

Many NHA members responded to this request. Results were mixed. While all respondents agreed that it is important to have technical consistency among the codes, not everyone agreed that consolidation of the codes is the answer.

Anyone interested in commenting on this proposed project is invited to do so in writing. Please include information on resources on the subject matter, the names of those interested in participating on the Committee (if established), the names of other organizations actively involved with this subject, and why you do or do not support such a project. Responses should be sent to Codes and Standards Administration, NFPA, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471, by July 5, 2005. For anyone that requires additional information on the proposed project, please contact NFPA Codes and Standards Administration.

US Fuel Cell Council Hosts First ISO/TC 197 Ad Hoc Group on Hydrogen Components
Randy Dey, CCS Global Group

The ISO/TC 197 Ad hoc group on hydrogen components met for the first time on 24 May 2005 in Arlington, Virginia in conjunction with the 2005 US DOE Hydrogen Program Review. This meeting, which was hosted by the US Fuel Council, gathered together experts from Argentina, Japan, Germany, Italy and the USA.

Under the leadership Mr. Randy Dey, who is also the chair of ISO/TC 197, the ad hoc group on hydrogen components initiated its task of developing a process on how ISO/TC 197 can move forward with the development of hydrogen component standards. He presented a proposed strategy for the standardization of hydrogen components, which after full discussion, was agreed to by the ad hoc group members.

As part of this exercise, a draft hydrogen component matrix was distributed and discussed at the meeting. This hydrogen component matrix included a list of components as well as a preliminary list of existing international standards that could be looked at. A small task group of experts was created at the meeting to handle the work of completing the hydrogen component matrix.

It is anticipated that the ad hoc group will complete its preliminary report sometime in August 2005. At that time, it will be circulated to the P-members for discussion during the next ISO/TC 197 plenary meeting.

For further information please contact Mr. Randy Dey at

ICC's Ad Hoc Committee for Hydrogen Gas
Final "In-person" Meeting Summary

Patrick Serfass, National Hydrogen Association
Darren Meyers, ICC (contributing)

In preparation for the 2004/05 Final Action Hearings to the International Codes, the International Code Council's (ICC's) Ad Hoc Committee for Hydrogen Gas (AHC) held its final in-person meeting June 1st and 2nd, 2005 at ICC's Chicago District Office in Country Club Hills, Illinois.

Committee members reviewed material for public comments that were recently submitted on behalf of the AHC for the 2004/05 Final Action Hearings to take place. Those hearings will take place from September 25th through October 2nd, 2005 at the COBO Conference and Exhibition Center in Detroit, Michigan.

Meeting Highlights
At the meeting, much discussion focused on data that might be used to update the separation distance requirement. In particular two reports were given: one on the Canadian Transportation Fuel Cell Alliance's (CTFCA) Hydrogen Clearance Distances final report; and another from Sandia National Laboratories on continuing investigations of large-scale hydrogen releases.

On behalf of the CTFCA, Andrei Tchouvelev of A.V. Tchouvelev & Associates led discussion on the CTFCA report. Discussion of the report prompted some spirited debate primarily on two topics: whether there should be two kinds of vent stack clearance distances; and grid sensitivity of the model. The vent stack discussion suggested that clearances might need to differentiate between: 1) distances from personnel at the human height level (based on thermal effects); and 2) distances from ignition sources, air intakes and other operable openings in buildings (based on flammable gas concentration). The AHC supported the philosophy of the approach to differentiate between the two distance classifications and suggested consideration by the hydrogen industry in future code change submittals. With regard to the grid sensitivity discussion, the AHC questioned whether an adequate number of computations (nodes) were used in the model. It was determined that the grid sensitivity of the model could be improved, but overall the information presented in the report would be useful when used in conjunction with other separation distance studies.

Bill Houf and Chris Moen of Sandia National Laboratory reported the latest data from large-scale Sandia/Southwest Research Institute hydrogen jet flame tests that lower the radiation hazard distances for personnel at the human height level (based on thermal effects). An uncertainty analysis for the jet flame radiation and unignited jet models was also presented to the AHC as previously requested.

Some discussion ensued on how risk assessments should be used in the development of vehicular-based fuel provisions in codes and standards. The AHC was focused on using this information to facilitate the transition of hydrogen from a widely used industrial gas, to a consumer-handled fuel. The AHC agreed that a uniform set of risk metrics needs to be established across all vehicular fuels (e.g., Petroleum, Ethanol, CNG, LPG, LNG, H2G, LH2), specifically gasified vehicular fuels. That way, a benchmark standard of risk accounting can be applied equitably across the national vehicle refueling infrastructure. Such an approach might allow reverse-engineering of the system design and components so that gasified fuels can be established in society with a minimum standard of acceptable risk.

Since nearly 80% of the AHC's proposed changes affecting hydrogen received favorable recommendations, the AHC elected not to pursue public comments on the few remaining items receiving recommendations for disapproval, including F189-04/05-Canopy storage, automatic v. manual discharge; F237-04/05-Deleting metal hydride storage without replacement; and M38-04/05-Deleting the natural ventilation exception. However, several industry groups expressed their intent to champion public comments to these proposals.

In closing, the AHC charged the committee Secretariat with summarizing key accomplishments, lessons learned and next steps accumulated by the AHC since its inception in August 2000 in a report to the ICC Board. The AHC will reconvene occasionally via teleconference and email over the coming months to review the Final Action agenda and prepare for testimony on the hearing room floor at the 2005 ICC Annual Conference in Detroit.

Since the reported actions of the Public Hearings (Hydrogen Safety Report, Mar 2005), are merely recommendations of ICC's various Code Committees (i.e., fuel gas, fire), these actions could still receive dissenting public comments, and are not yet finalized until the conclusion of the 2004/05 Code Development Cycle. This conclusion will occur at the Final Action Hearings in Detroit this September.

For more information on International Code Development, visit:
www.iccsafe.org/news/pdf/factssheet.pdf or

For more information on Code Cycle procedures/schedules for the 2004/05 cycle, visit: www.iccsafe.org/cs/codes/2004-05cycle

Hybrid Vehicles Pose New Breed of Rescue Risks
Shana Gruskin, Sun Sentinel
Reprinted from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

With gas prices rising and environmental concerns brewing, more Florida drivers are turning to electric-gas hybrids to meet their transportation needs.

But those green vehicles, while good for the air and their owners' wallets, pose a new danger to police, firefighters and others who respond to car crashes: electrocution.

Risks to first responders are nothing new, said Lawrence Scovotto, executive director of the Florida Fire Chiefs' Association. Fireworks, vicious dogs and even undeployed airbags can pose unexpected dangers to someone approaching a vehicle.

"We've had firefighters thrown almost 30 feet backward" by an airbag, Scovotto said.

Hybrids make a rescuer's job that much more complicated.

The battery in some hybrids, which run on a combination of electricity and gas, carries a charge of up to 500 volts. A typical car battery is 12 volts. As new hybrids are introduced, first responders must learn where the battery is stored and how to cut the cables so they don't risk electrocution when using such metal-crushing machinery as the Jaws of Life.

"With the increased popularity of hybrid vehicles, first responders are obviously dealing with some new challenges when they get to the scene of a crash," said Rae Tyson, spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To date, Floridians have registered nearly 7,300 hybrids made by Toyota and Honda, 27 percent of them in South Florida, according to data from the Department of Motor Vehicles. That doesn't include out-of-state hybrid vehicles traveling here.

So far, Tyson said, there have been no reports nationally of emergency workers being injured while trying to extricate a victim from a crashed hybrid. But that doesn't mean they should let their guard down, he added.

"It certainly wouldn't hurt for EMTs to be prepared because as more and more of these vehicles are on the road, it certainly increases the likelihood that sooner or later they'll have to respond to a crash."

Capt. Don DeLucia with Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue said the county's staff has received training on hybrids for more than three years. But the issue came to a head about a year ago, when car owners began calling with concerns.

"The question we were getting from people who owned these cars was, `We heard a rumor if our cars were involved in an accident and we're trapped, you guys are going to be hesitating to cut us out,'" DeLucia said.

"That is not true."

Everything on hybrid cars is color-coded to let first responders know where electricity flows, he said.

On Honda vehicles, for example, the high-voltage power line is bright orange and situated in such a way that "it's highly, highly unlikely that any emergency personnel would even be under that part of the car while trying to extricate somebody," said Sage Marie, a spokesman for the company. "Risk is very minimal, if any."

According to manufacturers, hybrids also pose no additional risk if submerged in water, a common occurrence in canal-laden South Florida. Emergency workers just need to make sure that once the car is pulled out, the ignition is off.

To ensure safety, Honda and Toyota created specific guides for first responders.

Toyota sent its guide to every fire department in the nation when its first hybrid was introduced a few years ago, said Sam Butto, a company spokesman. New guides are available for the company's latest hybrid Lexus and Highlander models. All the guides can be found free online.

So far, the challenge of removing victims from crashed hybrids hasn't come up in Palm Beach County, DeLucia said. But if it does, he said, "it's not going to prevent us from doing anything we would ordinarily do."

The eventuality of an incident, however, has forced trainers to stay on top of the issue.

"I imagine as different manufacturers introduce their vehicles, we're going to delve into those through the manufacturers to find out if they're going to do anything different," he said.

Capt. Dave Erdman, spokesman for Broward County Fire-Rescue, concurred.

"We want to make sure whatever we do doesn't endanger the trapped victim or the firefighter," he said.

In that vein, State Farm hosted live broadcasts across the nation June 17 to educate first responders on the potential risks of hybrid cars. The insurance company showed the educational seminar at three locations in South Florida: Palm Beach Gardens, Coral Springs and Pembroke Pines.

"Our hope is to make emergency responders aware of some of the hazards that technology in modern automobiles presents to them so ... when they need to extricate somebody after a collision, they'll be better informed," said Tom Hagerty, spokesman for State Farm.

While many responders across the state already have received training on the electrocution issue, they're now gearing up for the next test: hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The state Fire Marshal's Office currently is designing training standards for fighting fires related to hydrogen, which is highly flammable, odorless, colorless and can burn invisibly, said Nina Banister, a spokeswoman for the office. Three hydrogen-fueling stations are expected in the state within the next year.

Meanwhile, a statewide training program for first responders is expected to begin in January 2006, Scovotto added.

With so much new technology on the horizon, he said, EMTs, firefighters and other first responders must remember lesson No. 1: Expect anything.

"You never know what's going to happen when you show up to a car," he said.

Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.

About this Site
The Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association publishes the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Safety Report, a monthly electronic publication which provides information about developing hydrogen and fuel cell Codes and Standards and related safety information.

In addition, this site supports the activities of the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Codes & Standards Coordinating Committee, an entity consisting of a large number of organizations involved in the development of codes and standards for hydrogen energy systems and fuel cells, and the Hydrogen Industry Panel on Codes (HIPOC), an on-going forum to support the changes to codes and standards that are necessary to harmonize the U.S. Model Codes developed by the International Code Council (ICC) and codes and standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) affecting or relating to the storage, dispensing, use and handling of gaseous and liquefied hydrogen.

This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Energy under Award Number DE-AC36-08GO28308 to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, nor NREL makes any warranty express or implied, or assumes an legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof, or of NREL.