NextEnergy Hosts Fifth Annual Hydrogen Codes and Standards Conference
Looks Ahead to Next Event
Kelly Jezierski, NextEnergy

On September 21, 2010, NextEnergy hosted its fifth consecutive hydrogen codes and standards conference at its facility in Detroit, Michigan. The event was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc. (MBRDNA, a Daimler company). The event was well received due primarily to its diverse group of code and industry experts from national laboratories, non-profits, automotive companies, and hydrogen industry experts from around the globe.

NextEnergy ( is a non-profit, 501(c)3 thought-leader, whose mission is to become one of the nation's leading catalysts for alternative and renewable energy, with a charter towards expanding job growth in the State of Michigan. NextEnergy serves as an honest broker to assess and demonstrate emerging technologies, influence policy, and pave the way to commercialization of viable alternative energy technologies. Some of NextEnergy's customers include the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and its partners include universities, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), alternative energy start-ups, and other non-profits. A member of the National Hydrogen Association (NHA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), NextEnergy has been involved in the hydrogen community since its inception in 2002 and is currently working on developing a small-scale hydrogen fueling appliance with initial funding from the DOE. Mr. David McLean, NextEnergy's Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Technology Collaboration Programs, provided oversight during the construction of NextEnergy's Microgrid Power Pavillion and Alternative Fuels Platform, which features a hydrogen fueling station. 

The conference was a continuation of a series of Hydrogen Codes and Standards workshops targeted at uniting the key players in the hydrogen community and educating the general public and alternative energy enthusiasts on the latest hydrogen codes and standards developments. The forum allows for both end users of hydrogen and the industry officials citing hydrogen facilities and developing fuel cell vehicles to interact during both technical presentations and the less formal networking sessions in-between the technical content. The conferences also help provide valuable feedback on how to improve the permitting processes and fill gaps in existing codes and standards. 

The focus of the morning session was on recent hydrogen code developments for various government and non-profit agencies. Kelly Jezierski and Ron Gardhouse of NextEnergy welcomed the group and opened the technical program. Mr. Gardhouse, NextEnergy's President and CEO, talked about some of the reasons why hydrogen codes and standards are urgently needed. These include filling gaps in the coverage of existing hydrogen station infrastructure, providing a pathway for hydrogen fueling from distributed or renewable energy sources, and aligning with the objective of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in September of 2009 by six major automakers to commercially roll out a given number of fuel cell vehicles by the year 2015. 

Technical speakers during the morning session included: Anthony Amato of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Julie Cairns from CSA International, and Dave McLean of NextEnergy, who provided an update on NFPA 2, 52, and 55 developments. Carl Rivkin of U.S. DOE (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) also provided an update on DOE activities. And Dr. William Houf of Sandia National Laboratories provided an update on separation distances for hydrogen gas storage facilities to round out the morning session.

The afternoon technical session included updates on developments related to fuel cells, residential and commercial refuelers, and international codes. Two Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) updates were given. First, Mike Veenstra from Ford Motor Co. spoke about safety standards for hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles, and then Jesse Schneider of Proton Motor GmbH (Germany) gave an update on SAE J2601, the fueling protocol for 35 and 70 MPa hydrogen vehicles.

Several updates were given on hydrogen fueling facilities developments. First, Everett Anderson of Proton Energy Systems provided an overview on the company's proton exchange membrane (PEM) water electrolysis-based fueling efforts, which included its SunHydro prototype fueling station, scheduled to open in October 2010 in Wallingford, Connecticut. The facility boasts third party certification to NFPA 52 standards, integration of on-site solar photovoltaic power and operating pressures at both 350 and 700 bar. Mr. Anderson also discussed the development of an east coast hydrogen highway that would include SunHydro stations from the coast of Maine down to Miami, Florida. 

Next, Ted Barnes of the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) provided an overview of GTI's experience on codes and standards cases from installations across the U.S., with a focus on Missouri. Chris McWhinney followed with an update on Millenium Reign Energy's new renewable hydrogen fueling appliance called the AutoArk® Hydrogen generator. Lastly, Stephen Jones from ITM Power in Sheffield, United Kingdom, gave an update on the 70 MPa small-scale hydrogen fueling appliance, which they are working on in partnership with NextEnergy and with technical guidance from a Steering Committee consisting of eight automotive manufacturers, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), DMA, and the U.S. Tank Automotive Research & Development Engineering Center, a division of the Army. 

ITM Power also provided an update on fueling technologies and hydrogen codes in the U.K. Mr. Jones expressed how the U.S. is further along in the development of codes and standards in the U.K. and Europe, although overall the American market lags the European market in terms of the commercialization efforts of fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure. The next presentation on international codes was given by Tom Joseph of Bethlehem Hydrogen. Mr. Joseph provided an update on hydrogen and compressed natural gas (CNG) code developments in India. Mr. Joseph explained that the CNG infrastructure development provides an important intermediate step towards hydrogen infrastructure development and how there are several sources of hydrogen production in India. 

Lastly, Karen Hall of the National Hydrogen Association provided an ideal wrap-up presentation entitled, "Progress and Future Directions of International Standards for Hydrogen Energy Technologies." Ms. Hall discussed how there is more direct industry participation in codes and standards efforts when commercialization of certain technologies is imminent and gave an excellent overview on the concerted efforts of several international organizations. These ranged from working groups within the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) addressing hydrogen codes and standards for fuel cartridges and forklifts to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) relating to liquid hydrogen for land vehicle fuel tanks and compressed hydrogen surface vehicle refueling.

NextEnergy is planning to host another hydrogen codes and standards workshop in March of 2011. More information about upcoming events will continue to be provided in future editions of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Safety Report. 

Program and Presentations

NOTE: Chris McWhinney's presentation is not available due to confidentiality requirements.

NFPA 52 Meeting Report
Paul May, NFPA Staff Liaison and Karen Hall, National Hydrogen Association

The Technical Committee responsible for maintaining NFPA 52: Vehicular Gaseous Fuel Systems Code, met on September 15 - 16, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The purpose of this preliminary Report on Proposals (pre-ROP) meeting was to address items that may need to be developed for NFPA 52, which is on the Fall 2012 cycle for revision. The deadline for proposals for NFPA 52 is May 23, 2011. The revised edition date is 2013.

There were reports from the existing task groups and discussion about the potential need for additional task groups.

Concerning automotive restructuring and edits, Gary Pope (USA PRO & Associates LLC) presented a report on a draft to be proposed as a new Chapter 4. There was some discussion regarding whether marine vessels, for which the American Bureau of Shipping has jurisdiction, should remain in the general section or in the document at all. It was noted that pulling together general requirements and restructuring what is in the document is very worthwhile. The committee believes that the current structure of NFPA 52 raises quite a few questions and imagines that the user of the document would have even more. Following this revision, the Code is expected to be much clearer. The task group working on this alteration, plan to reach their goal by March 31, 2011.

Larry Fluer (Fluer, Inc.) presented an update report on the NFPA 2/55 task group work on separation distance tables to be submitted to NFPA 55 by November 23, 2010. 

Aaron Harris (Nuvera Fuel Cells) and Dave Farese (Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.) advised the committee of additional proposals being developed for NFPA 55.

Frank Lynch (Hythane Company) reported on the work of the Blended Fuels Task Group to address issues raised during the last revision cycle regarding hydrogen/CNG blends, which included:

  • ISO/TC 22 SC 25 is doing blends up to 30% to avoid changing electrical classification – the next meeting is scheduled for November 27, 2010. The June 2010 meeting had four presentations on blends and the Italian representatives shared their experiences with blends.

  • Draft chapters addressing blends are being developed and are being modeled after the existing chapters 5, 7, and 9 of NFPA 52.

  • It was suggested during the meeting that the committee exclude less certain subject areas as they evolve and, for the moment, proceed with only the most commonly established pieces.

  • It was further asserted that the blends task group consider, for the time being, applying the same tank protocols for blends as are required for 100% hydrogen, until additional data exists to justify considering distinguishing these requirements. The task group could include wording to allow alternate provisions for approvals of tanks that do not meet the requirements for tanks approved for pure hydrogen.

  • There was an impression that vehicle original equipment manufacturers believe it is too early to regulate hydrogen cylinders, so CSA, SAE and ISO documents are stalled.

There was some discussion about whether hydrogen should remain part of the scope of NFPA 52 or if this should go with the Technical Committees responsible for NFPA 2 and NFPA 55. This would leave NFPA 52 to cover LNG, CNG, and blends containing up to a certain amount of hydrogen. The technical committee performed a straw poll to see who among those present favored the idea of having the hydrogen chapters removed from NFPA 52. The idea was generally approved by a majority of those at the meeting. This topic will be raised with all committee members following the meeting. If there is general agreement, it may also be raised with the Hydrogen Technologies Committee. A draft letter could then be written by the Chair, Nancy Pehrson (CenterPoint Energy, Inc.), to inform the Standards Council of the desire of the committee and to investigate the option of a scope change. 

Paul May (NFPA Staff Liaison) highlighted some advisory service questions received on the 2010 edition of NFPA 52 relating to CNG. The committee will consider drafting proposals to address some of the questions raised by users of the document. 

Mihai Ursan (Westport Power Inc.) gave a presentation on Westport’s safety, processes, compliance, etc., when using high pressure direct injection diesel technology.

Doug Horne (Clean Vehicle Education Foundation) discussed CNG proposals. He gave a presentation on natural gas vehicle failures, causes, and future work. He covered recent CNG incidents and the lessons learned from these events.

Karen Hall (National Hydrogen Association) noted the storage issues raised in section 9.18 on residential fueling facilities for gaseous hydrogen systems, including the potential need for a new task group that would explore conflicts with building codes. The committee agreed in principal and Karen and Paul will hold preliminary discussions with some members who were not present who may have an interest in participating on a task force addressing this subject. Bob Petsinger (CNG Services International Inc.) indicated interest.

Aaron Harris provided a link to the Hydrogen Incident Reporting and Lessons Learned system:

Bill Houf (Sandia National Laboratory) presented a report on hydrogen release behavior.

The next meeting of this Technical Committee will be for the Report on Proposals (ROP). This is tentatively scheduled to be hosted at the NFPA building in Quincy, MA for August 1 - 5, 2011.