Why are they Needed?
Hydrogen has been used extensively in the petrochemical and chemical industries and in smaller quantities in the electronics, steel-producing, glass-making, and food hydrogenation industries for over seventy years. In energy applications, the most significant historical use of hydrogen has been in the space programs.
Existing industrial safety rules, regulations, consensus standards, and codes relating to the transporting and utilization of hydrogen are adequate for small markets. The use of hydrogen has resulted in an outstanding safety record. However, in the case of widespread usage of hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), yesterday’s safety rules, consensus standards, codes, etc. may not be adequate.
Systematic efforts by local/state/federal government entities, producers of hydrogen products (e.g., automotive industry, etc.), codes and standards organizations, users, and others have been devoted to:
Identifying safety-related issues associated with the production and use of hydrogen-fueled systems; and
Developing or updating and then validating regulations, codes and standards relating to the safe transportation, use and servicing of hydrogen-fueled systems.
With increasing announcements by automakers and industry to deploy FCVs, develop hydrogen infrastructure, and cite stationary fuel cell systems, we need to be adequately prepared for the coming widespread use of hydrogen fuel in our energy system.
Because of this growing application for hydrogen for energy needs, efforts were undertaken to create consensus standards for domestic and international use, develop enforceable building, fire, mechanical, plumbing, and other building code provisions, and to harmonize, to a practical extent, requirements from different countries to facilitate international trade.
Codes and standards development is occurring in advance of, or in parallel with, applications for hydrogen-fueled systems. Codes and standards development is being coordinated with technology development so that the technologies can be sited as they enter commercial or pre-commercial deployment phases. R&D efforts are also needed to validate proposed requirements.
Hydrogen energy safety is based on three primary elements: regulatory requirements, capability of safety technology, and the systematic application of equipment and procedures to minimize risks. Industry currently implements many successful proprietary methodologies for safely handling large amounts of hydrogen. There are several codes and standards specifically for hydrogen that are in place or under development at all levels of government in many countries and overarching international efforts.