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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 would be perfectly acceptable.

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.

The link is a bit softer in case of directives of the New Approach type where references to harmonized standards are provided not as compulsory, but as a recognized way to meet the legal requirements. Details of this process are dealt with in the ISO paper “Using and Referencing ISO and IEC Standards for Technical Regulations”.

Apart from public standards as those mentioned above there are also company standards and industry standards made by associations like EIGA (European Industrial Gas Association, Brussels). They have no legal status but are usually followed since they are considered as good advice on the state of the art.

These general remarks should make clear that it is not feasible to ordain standardisation work or to expect a certain number of documents by 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 usually provides sufficient driving force for the necessary standards to be published in due time.

Standardisation panorama

The focus of this report is on global or European standardisation. This is of course based on the work of the national standard bodies and the experts nominated by them.

A common marketplace with common regulations also needs also common or at least harmonised standards. While ISO is doing this on a global level, 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:

InterfaceVienna agreementVienna agreement...

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 and European experts participate in the ISO working groups. Participation in ISO working groups takes place via mirror groups in national standardisation bodies. 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.


The most important committee on standards for hydrogen technology is ISO TC 197 “Hydrogen Technologies”. ISO TC 22 SC 21 “Electric Road Vehicles” deals with fuel cell vehicles, and in future component standards for road vehicle applications will be developed by ISO TC22 SC25 “Road Vehicles Using Gaseous Fuels”. A web of cooperation agreements interlink these and many other ISO Technical Committees.

Every TC has P (participating) and O (observing) 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.

ISO Technical Committee 197 “Hydrogen Technologies”

The secretariat is held by the Québec standardisation organisation Bureau de Normalisation du Québec (BNQ) in Canada. The membership of ISO TC 197 at the beginning of 2008 was:

P membersO members
BelgiumCzech Republic
CanadaHong Kong
Korea (Republic of) 
United Kingdom 

The work of ISO TC 197 is organized in (at this time) thirteen 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.

1Liquid hydrogen - Land vehicles fuel tanksCanada
5Gaseous hydrogen - Land vehicle filling connectorsCanada
6Gaseous hydrogen and hydrogen blends - Land vehicle fuel tanksCanada
8Hydrogen generators using water electrolysis processCanada
9Hydrogen generators using fuel processing technologiesNetherlands
10Transportable gas storage devices - Hydrogen absorbed in reversible metal hydrideUSA
11Gaseous hydrogen - Service stationsCanada
12Hydrogen fuel - Product specificationJapan
13Hydrogen detectorsJapan

The following official documents have been published by ISO TC 197:

  • ISO 13984:1999 Liquid hydrogen -- Land vehicle fuelling system interface
  • ISO 13985:2006 Liquid hydrogen -- Land vehicle fuel tanks
  • ISO 14687:1999 Hydrogen fuel -- Product specification (for hydrogen ICE vehicle
  • ISO 14687:1999/Cor 1:2001 (Update of the above)
  • ISO 14687-2:2008 Hydrogen fuel specification for PEM fuel cell applications for road vehicles
  • ISO/PAS 15594:2004 Airport hydrogen fuelling facility operations
  • ISO/TR 15916:2004 Basic considerations for the safety of hydrogen systems
  • ISO 16110-1:2007 Hydrogen generators using fuel processing technologies -- Part 1: Safety
  • ISO/TS 16111:2006 Transportable gas storage devices -- Hydrogen absorbed in reversible metal hydride
  • ISO 17268:2006 Compressed hydrogen surface vehicle refuelling connection devices (25 and 35 MPa existing; 70 MPa under preparation)
  • ISO 13985:2006 – LH2 fuel tank and accessories
  • ISO/TS 20012:2008 Gaseous hydrogen — Fuelling stations (HRS)

ISO TC 22 “Road Vehicles”

ISO TC22 “Road Vehicles”is also a key hydrogen standard developer through its sub-committees SC 21 “Electric Road Vehicles” and SC 25 “Road vehicles using gaseous fuels”. The following official hydrogen related document has been published by SC21:

  • ISO 23273-2 Fuel cell road vehicles -- Safety specifications -- Part 2: Protection against hydrogen hazards for vehicles fuelled with compressed hydrogen
  • ISO 23273-3:2006 – Protection of persons against electric shock

SC 25 is in the process of developing standards for application in road vehicles.

IEC Technical Committee “Fuel Cell Technologies”

The secretariat of IEC TC 105 “Fuel Cells” is held by Germany. There are currently 16 P-members and 9 O-members. Work on automotive fuel cell applications has been transferred to ISO TC22 SC21. The current situation in terms of members is like this:

P membersO members
FranceCzech Republic
Korea (Republic of)Portugal
United KingdomThailand

The working groups are:

2Fuel Cell ModulesGermany
3Stationary Fuel Cell Power Plants - SafetyUSA
4Performance of Fuel Cell Power PlantsJapan
5Stationary Fuel Cell Power Plants - InstallationGermany
6Fuel Cell System for Propulsion and auxiliary power systems (APU)Germany
7Portable Fuel Cell Appliances – SafetyCanada
8Micro Fuel Cell Power Systems - SafetyUSA
9Micro Fuel Cell Power Systems - PerformanceJapan
10Micro Fuel Cell Power Systems - InterchangeabilityJapan
11Fuel cell technologies - Part 7-1: Single Cell Test Method for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell (PEFC)Japan

The following official documents have been published by IEC TC 105:

  • IEC/TS 62282-1 (2005-03) Fuel cell technologies - Part 1: Terminology
  • IEC 62282-2 (2007-03) Ed. 1.1 Fuel cell technologies - Part 2: Fuel cell modules
  • IEC 62282-2-am1 (2007-02) Amendment 1 - Fuel cell technologies - Part 2: Fuel cell modules
  • IEC 62282-3-1 (2007-04) Fuel cell technologies - Part 3-1: Stationary fuel cell power systems - Safety
  • IEC 62282-3-2 (2006-03) Fuel cell technologies - Part 3-2: Stationary fuel cell power systems - Performance test methods
  • IEC 62282-3-3 (2007-11) Fuel cell technologies - Part 3-3: Stationary fuel cell power systems - Installation
  • IEC 62282-5-1 (2007-02) Fuel cell technologies - Part 5-1: Portable fuel cell power systems - Safety
  • IEC 62282-6-200 (2007-11) Fuel cell technologies - Part 6-200: Micro fuel cell power systems - Performance test methods
  • IEC/PAS 62282-6-1 (2006-02) Fuel cell technologies - Part 6-1: Micro fuel cell power systems – Safety
  • IEC/PAS 62282-6-1 Corr.1 (2007-04) Corrigendum 1 - Fuel cell technologies - Part 6-1: Micro fuel cell power systems - Safety


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 December 03, 2008, at 11:43 AM