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Safety, Codes, and Standards

Photo of person working with scientific equipment in a laboratory setting.

NREL researcher works on sensor testing apparatus in the Safety Sensor Testing Laboratory.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL 25380

NREL's hydrogen safety, codes, and standards projects focus on ensuring safe operation, handling, and use of hydrogen and hydrogen systems through safety sensors and codes and standards for buildings and equipment.

Safety Sensors

To facilitate hydrogen safety, NREL is testing hydrogen sensors that detect leaks and monitor gas purity at the Safety Sensor Testing Laboratory. Because hydrogen is colorless and odorless, sensors are important for safe hydrogen fueling stations, equipment, and facilities.

NREL researchers are testing fiber-optic sensor configurations resistant to electromagnetic interference. They also are testing protective and self-cleaning overlayer coatings for sensors. For remote hydrogen sensing, NREL is assessing sensor requirements and design options for innovative hydrogen sensor technologies and the feasibility of using analytic techniques.

Other sensor projects include testing wide-area visible hydrogen sensors and low-cost sensor arrays to address the transfer of instrument calibration between devices and the stability of devices over time. NREL explores the application of gettering polymer films for coating onto pipe and joined surfaces, gettering gasket materials based on Teflon composite materials, and incorporating sensor chemicals into coating and gasket materials.

International Collaboration

Scientists and engineers at NREL's Safety Sensor Testing Laboratory collaborate with a variety of partners from industry, academia, and other research organizations to develop and test hydrogen sensor technologies. In addition to partnering with organizations in the United States, NREL has formalized a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) Institute of Energy and Transport in The Netherlands.

This arrangement synergizes the efforts of both laboratories and leverages output by:

  • Minimizing the duplication of R&D efforts and maximizing throughput
  • Increasing international exposure and visibility of results
  • Expanding capabilities and broadening the range of expertise to facilitate information exchange
  • Facilitating the implementation of hydrogen infrastructure by expanding international collaboration among stakeholders.

Highlights of this collaboration include:

  • Eight oral presentations on hydrogen safety sensors at national and international conferences under the auspices of the MOA
  • Seven reports on hydrogen safety sensors published by NREL or JRC, peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals, and conference proceedings
  • Joint partnership in international hydrogen sensor standards development and working groups.

For detailed information about this project, refer to the progress report.

Codes and Standards

NREL facilitates developing and promulgating building and equipment codes and standards for hydrogen systems in commercial, residential, and transportation applications. NREL also provides technical resources to help international standards development organizations.

By developing and promulgating codes and standards, NREL contributes to making hydrogen a more significant energy carrier and fuel. Codes and standards are critical for the commercialization of hydrogen-based products and systems. In support of this, NREL developed national templates for hydrogen codes and standards.

Publications and Presentations

The NREL Publications Database offers a variety of documents related to hydrogen and fuel cell safety, codes, and standards. The following selection provides a sampling of journal articles, technical reports, conference papers, and presentations.

NREL Hydrogen Sensor Testing Laboratory
Publication Type: Technical report (2013 Annual Progress Report)
Authors: W. Buttner, C. Rivkin, R. Burgess
Publication Date: December 2013

National Codes and Standards Development and Outreach
Publication Type: Technical report (2013 Annual Progress Report)
Authors: C. Rivkin, C. Blake, R. Burgess, W. Buttner
Publication Date: December 2013

Component Standard Research and Development
Publication Type: Technical report (2013 Annual Progress Report)
Authors: R. Burgess, W. Buttner, C. Rivkin
Publication Date: December 2013

Pressure Relief Devices for High-Pressure Gaseous Storage Systems: Applicability to Hydrogen Technology
Publication Type: Technical report
Authors: A. Kostival, C. Rivkin, W. Buttner, R. Burgess
Publication Date: November 2013

Onboard Hydrogen/Helium Sensors in Support of the Global Technical Regulation: An Assessment of Performance in Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Crash Tests
Publication Type: Technical report
Authors: M. Post, R. Burgess, C. Rivkin, W. Buttner, K. O'Malley, A. Ruiz
Publication Date: September 2012

Steering Committee Progress Report on Hydrogen Sensor Performance Testing and Evaluation under the Memorandum of Agreement between NREL, U.S. DOE, and JRC-IET, EC
Publication Type: Technical report
Authors: W. Buttner, M. Post, R. Burgess, C. Rivkin, L. Boon-Brett, V. Palmisano, C. Bonato, F. Harskamp
Publication Date: December 2012

Inter-Laboratory Assessment of Hydrogen Safety Sensors Performance under Anaerobic Conditions
Publication Type: Journal article (International Journal of Hydrogen Energy)
Authors: W.J. Buttner, R. Burgess, C. Rivkin, M.B. Post, L. Boon-Brett, G. Black, F. Harskamp, P. Moretto
Publication Date: November 2012

Summary and Findings from the NREL/DOE Hydrogen Sensor Workshop (June 8, 2011)
Publication Type: Technical report
Authors: W. Buttner, R. Burgess, M. Post, C. Rivkin
Publication Date: July 2012

Standard Hydrogen Test Protocols for the NREL Sensor Testing Laboratory
Publication Type: Brochure
Authors: J. Buttner, M. Post, R. Burgess, C. Rivkin
Publication Date: December 2011

An Overview of Hydrogen Safety Sensors and Requirements
Publication Type: Journal article (International Journal of Hydrogen Energy)
Authors: W. J. Buttner, M. B. Post, R. Burgess, C. Rivkin
Publication Date: February 2011

Interim Report of the SINTERCOM Project
Publication Type: Technical report (published by the Joint Research Centre's Institute for Energy)
Authors: G. Black, L. Boon-Brett, F. Harskamp, P. Moretto, W. J. Buttner, M. B. Post, R. Burgess, C. Rivkin
Publication Date: 2011

Round Robin Testing of Commercial Hydrogen Sensor Performance – Observations and Results
Publication Type: Conference paper (2010 National Hydrogen Association Conference and Expo)
Authors: W. B. Buttner, R. Burgess, C. Rivkin, M. B. Post, L. Boon-Brett, G. Black, F. Harskamp, P. Moretto
Publication Date: May 2010

A National Agenda for Hydrogen Codes and Standards
Publication Type: Conference paper (International Symposium on Materials Issues in a Hydrogen Economy)
Author: C. Blake
Publication Date: May 2010

A National Set of Hydrogen Codes and Standards for the United States
Publication Type: Conference presentation (3rd International Conference on Hydrogen Safety)
Authors: C. Rivkin, C. Blake, W. J. Buttner, M. Post, and R. Burgess
Publication Date: September 2009

Buoyancy-Driven Ventilation of Hydrogen from Buildings: Laboratory Test and Model Validation
Publication Type: Journal article (International Journal of Hydrogen Energy)
Authors: C. D. Barley, K. Gawlik
Publication Date: July 2009

Test Protocol Document, Hydrogen Safety Sensor Testing (Phase I: Non-Flammable Mixtures)
Publication Type: Technical report
Authors: R. Burgess, C. Blake, C. E. Tracy
Publication Date: September 2008

Analysis of Buoyancy-Driven Ventilation of Hydrogen from Buildings
Publication Type: Conference paper (2nd International Conference on Hydrogen Safety)
Authors: C. D. Barley, K. Gawlik, J. Ohi, R. Hewett
Publication Date: August 2007

Analysis of Buoyancy-Driven Ventilation of Hydrogen from Buildings
Publication Type: Conference presentation (2nd International Conference on Hydrogen Safety)
Authors: C. D. Barley, K. Gawlik, J. Ohi, R. Hewett
Publication Date: August 2007

More Information

The following resources offer more information about hydrogen safety, codes, and standards.

Contact: Carl Rivkin