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Though standards and regulations are frequently mentioned together it should be remembered that they are two fundamentally different things. While regulations are mandatory for everybody in its domain, standards are not. Standards facilitate the trade and use of goods or services. Their main role is to make components or services fit together: pressure cylinders with valves, valves with regulators and further equipment leading the gas to the place of use. This, however, also involves safety issues, and so there is of course an interface with regulations. The following table highlights the most important characteristics of legal requirements and standards:

	Legal requirements	Standards

Purpose Protection of the public, the environment, employees, material values etc. from damage or danger Facilitation of the free exchange of gods and services Source Legislative bodies, governments or other political bodies; sometimes technical expert committees under supervision of the former Free agreement by those parties which are interested in such a standard Legal character Law, ordinance or otherwise mandatory instruments In principle not mandatory, but may be referenced in a regulation or considered as acceptable practice in court

It is difficult to make standards for a technical field which is new and in constant development. Frequently a standard reflects a state of the art which has found to be useful by longer experience. They are of little use during the development phase of a product or technology; they may even choke the technical progress if they set too narrow margins, or they will remain ineffective. Standard makers in such a field (hydrogen and fuel cells certainly are one of them) shall restrict themselves to such provisions as will be necessary to ensure that the new product or technology can be introduced in the market easily and generally. Neither is it necessary that standardization bodies produce a lot of special standards for their field when there are already perfectly satisfactory general papers. Here an annex which deals with particular features for this application will perfectly do in many cases. The basically clear distinction between regulations and standards stated above is somewhat softened by the fact that directives and other regulations may refer to standards. If this happens the user is obliged to follow this standard, giving it a power similar to that of a regulation. But regulations usually contain some provision for the case that technical progress produces new products or applications not explicitly covered by the existing standards. These are required to meet the same safety objectives. Just the process to prove that they do is more tedious. While in the case of a conventional product the reference to the standards is enough, extensive test reports may be necessary for new ones. Certification may be done initially on an individual basis only. As soon as the new product proves that there is a market for it its manufacturers often develop appropriate standards and introduce them in the regulations. This may take time, but it is a general experience with new technologies. These general remarks should make clear that it is useless to ordain standardisation work or to expect a certain number of papers at a given deadline. These activities are not and can not be directed by some superior body but they depend on the free agreement of those people who make the products or activities the standards apply to. Their simple desire to create a friendly market environment is usually driving force enough for the necessary standards to appear in due time.

Standardisation panorama

A common marketplace with common regulations needs also common or at least harmonised standards. While ISO is doing this on a world wide scale, there is also CEN for the domain of the EU and associated countries. A similar situation prevails with IEC and CENELEC for the field of electrotechnical standards. The following table clarifies the standardisation situation:

	general	electrical	other

World ISO IEC … Interface Vienna agreement EU CEN CENELEC …

The Vienna agreement between ISO and CEN and between IEC and CENELEC, respectively, is to prevent duplicate work and contradictory results. It contains basically two things: • A topic which is dealt with in ISO or IEC (or CEN or CENELEC, depending who starts first) must not be dealt with by CEN or CENELEC (or ISO or IEC) at the same time. • Papers produced by one body can (and preferably should) be adopted by the corresponding partner body in a simplified and accelerated procedure. Since there is a Technical Committee on “Hydrogen Technologies” in ISO (TC 197) there is no such committee in CEN. The European experts rather participate in the ISO working groups. A similar situation prevails for fuel cells with IEC TC 105 “Fuel Cell Technology”. Given the global character of the technical development this is certainly appropriate. De facto CEN and CENELC will not start the drafting of hydrogen or fuel cell relevant standards anymore and leave this for international activity on ISO and IEC levels.

International activity (ISO and IEC) and related applications

ISO Technical Committee “Hydrogen Technologies”

The most important committee on standards for hydrogen technology is ISO TC 197 “Hydrogen Technologies”. The secretariat is held by the Québec standardisation organisation Bureau de Normalisation du Québec (BNQ) in Canada. Every TC has P (participant) and O (observer) members from among the national standard bodies which are members of ISO. While the O members receive all the papers and can attend the TC plenary meetings, only P members have the right to nominate experts for the working groups and to vote on the results. The membership of ISO TC 197 at this time is this: P members O members Argentina Australia Austria China Belgium Czech Republic Canada Hungary Denmark India Egypt Jamaica France Libya Germany Serbia / Montenegro Italy Thailand Japan Turkey Korea (Republic of) United Kingdom Netherlands Norway Russia Spain Sweden Switzerland USA

The work of ISO TC 197 is organized in (at this time) twelve working groups, but not all of them are active. Some of them have finished their task a while ago and exist only formally. Only the active ones are given in the table. No. Topic Secretariat 1 Liquid hydrogen - Land vehicles fuel tanks Canada 5 Gaseous hydrogen - Land vehicle filling connectors Canada 6 Gaseous hydrogen and hydrogen blends - Land vehicle fuel tanks Canada 8 Hydrogen generators using water electrolysis process Canada 9 Hydrogen generators using fuel processing technologies Netherlands 10 Transportable gas storage devices - Hydrogen absorbed in reversible metal hydride USA 11 Gaseous hydrogen - Service stations Canada 12 Hydrogen fuel - Product specification Japan 13 Hydrogen detectors Japan

The following official documents have been published by ISO TC 197: • ISO 13984:1999 Liquid hydrogen -- Land vehicle fuelling system interface • ISO 14687:1999 Hydrogen fuel -- Product specification • ISO 14687:1999/Cor 1:2001 (Update of the above) • ISO/PAS 15594:2004 Airport hydrogen fuelling facility operations • ISO/TR 15916:2004 Basic considerations for the safety of hydrogen systems • ISO 17268:2006 Compressed hydrogen surface vehicle refuelling connection devices

ISO TC22 “Road Vehicles“ is also a key hydrogen standard developer through its sub-committees SC 21 “Electrically propelled Road Vehicles” and SC 25 “Vehicles using gaseous fuels”. The following official hydrogen related document is to be published by SC21 during 2006: • ISO 23273-2 Fuel cell road vehicles -- Safety specifications -- Part 2: Protection against hydrogen hazards for vehicles fuelled with compressed hydrogen

IEC Technical Committee “Fuel Cells”

The secretariat of IEC TC 105 “Fuel Cells” is held by Germany. The current situation in terms of members is like this:

P members O members Canada Australia China Austria Denmark Belgium Finland Egypt France Norway Germany Poland Israel Portugal Italy Serbia / Montenegro Japan Thailand Korea (Republic of) Netherlands Spain Sweden Switzerland United Kingdom USA

The working groups are:

No. Topic Secretariat 1 Terminology USA 2 Fuel Cell Modules Germany 3 Stationary Fuel Cell Power Plants - Safety USA 4 Performance of Fuel Cell Power Plants Japan 5 Stationary Fuel Cell Power Plants - Installation Germany 6 Fuel Cell System for Propulsion and auxiliary power systems (APU) Germany 7 Portable Fuel Cell Appliances – Safety and Performance requirements Canada 8 Micro Fuel Cell Power Systems - Safety USA 9 Micro Fuel Cell Power Systems - Performance Japan 10 Micro Fuel Cell Power Systems - Interchangeability Japan

No papers have yet been published by this TC, but quite a few can be expected in the foreseeable future.


There are numerous interfaces between hydrogen standards and those from other fields, like pressure vessels, vehicles, etc. Work on hydrogen standards can not be done in an isolated way, but only in cooperation with the other committees. ISO TC 197 and IEC TC 105 have a liaison with each other. ISO TC 197 has other liaisons with ten ISO TCs and a few sub-committees, plus other liaisons with external bodies as the European Hydrogen Association and the National Hydrogen Association (USA). The situation is similar for IEC TC 105.

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Page last modified on February 27, 2007, at 02:25 PM