Codes & Standards

Fuel cells are consumer products as well as industrial devices, and since they are produced and used by and around workers and the public, they are bound by national and international regulations relating to their safety, use, transportation and storage.

What Are Codes and Standards?
In the most basic sense, codes are laws.  You must follow them, where applicable, or you are subject to legal penalties under the law.  Codes are passed by nations, states, legislative bodies and regulatory jurisdictions to control those things under their authority.

Standards are guidance, written by organizations set up for that purpose that can be voluntarily followed to achieve standardization or a level of quality that is respected in a particular industry.

Codes and standards are sometimes confused with one another.  It is always best to check with the local jurisdiction to find out what applies, and not just use the titles of standards to make your choice of what documents to follow.

What Codes and Standards do I have to follow to install a fuel cell project?
The simplest answer to that question is probably "You must follow the laws in force where the project will be built".  In the United States, almost every location has a local building code that requires buildings, equipment and other structures to be designed and built safely, for the good of everyone.  This is well known to construction professionals and is enforced by the typical requirement to obtain a building permit, have periodic inspections by the local Building Department or other authority having jurisdiction over the project and obtain a final permit to occupy or use the facility.  Local jurisdictions have local deviations from the model building codes and sometimes deviations are applied on a use-by-use basis.  Hospitals may have more stringent requirements than office buildings, for instance.  A typical set of building and construction codes might include the following:

  1. Building Code – including seismic and structural standards
  2. Mechanical Code – including ventilation requirements
  3. Plumbing Code – including fuel piping, water and waste piping and process piping
  4. Energy Code – including energy efficiency and insulation
  5. Fire Code – including ventilation and fire protection requirements
  6. Electrical Code – including wiring, hazardous locations and fire protection requirements
  7. Administrative Requirements – including the requirements to obtain permits, mitigate environmental impacts, fees and inspection requirements
  8. Air Quality Regulations – including gaseous and particulate emissions

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Safety Information

The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Safety Report is a bi-monthly electronic publication which provides information about developing hydrogen and fuel cell Codes and Standards and related safety information. In addition, this site supports the activities of the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Codes & Standards Coordinating Committee, an entity consisting of a large number of organizations involved in the development of codes and standards for hydrogen energy systems and fuel cells, and the Hydrogen Industry Panel on Codes (HIPOC), an on-going forum to support the changes to codes and standards that are necessary to harmonize the U.S. Model Codes developed by the International Code Council (ICC) and codes and standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) affecting or relating to the storage, dispensing, use and handling of gaseous and liquefied hydrogen.  Past issues of the montly publication are available here.


DOE Resources

The Department of Energy (DOE) has several areas where good information on safety, codes and standards is available.

The H2 Safety Snapshot bulletin outlines safety best practices and lessons learned in hydrogen handling.

The Hydrogen Safety Bibliographic Database provides references to reports, articles, books, and other resources for information on hydrogen safety as it relates to production, storage, distribution, and use.

A Permitting Hydrogen Facilities Web site identifies model codes and standards to help local permitting officials deal with proposals for hydrogen fueling stations, fuel cell use for telecommunications facilities, and other hydrogen projects.

The Introduction to Hydrogen Safety for First Responders Web-based course provides an "awareness level" hydrogen overview for fire, law enforcement, and emergency medical personnel.

The Introduction to Hydrogen for Code Officials Web-based course provides an overview of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, how these technologies are used in real-world applications, and the codes and standards required for permitting them.

Hydrogen/Fuel Cell Codes & Regulations is an excellent resource for the latest updates and latest topics on hydrogen and fuel cell standards.

This EERE site contains a comprehensive listing of current U.S. regulations applicable to hydrogen.


Additional Regulatory Guidance

The Hydrogen Safety Best Practices Manual is an online manual that captures the wealth of knowledge and experience related to the safe handling and use of hydrogen that exists as a result of its extensive history in a wide variety of applications. The purpose of the manual, prepared collaboratively by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, is to share this knowledge gathered from numerous experts, public domain documents, and references in an online, easy-to-use manner.

The Hydrogen Incident Reporting Database provides lessons learned and other relevant information gained from actual experiences working with hydrogen. The database contains records of events involving hydrogen or hydrogen-related technologies.

NFPA 54: National Fuel Gas Code 
NFPA 55: Standard for the Storage, Use, and Handling of Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids in Portable and Stationary Containers, Cylinders, and Tanks, 2005 Edition
US Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) 29 CFR 1910 Subpart H – Hazardous Materials 1910.103 – Hydrogen
NFPA 853: Standard for the Installation of Stationary Fuel Cell Power Plants 2003 Edition
NFPA 70: National Electrical Code Article 692 Fuel Cell Systems
ANSI / IEEE 1547-2003: IEEE Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems
ANSI/CSA America FC1-2004 (formerly ANSI Z21.83) American National Standard For Fuel Cell Power Systems
IEC 62282-3-1: Fuel Cell Power Systems – Safety
American Society of Mechanical Engineers PTC 50: Performance Test Code, For Fuel Cell Power System Performance
IEC 62282-3-2 (2006-03): Fuel Cell Power System – Performance

Additional Regulatory Resources
International Code Council – Model Building and Construction Codes and Standards
National Fire Protection Association – Model Building and Construction Codes and Standards
International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials – Model Building and Construction Codes and Standards