ACS Resources

Hydrogen Testing Facility: Retrofit or Build New

Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions

Hydrogen Safety

Are my existing safety systems adequate for hydrogen testing?

Probably not – unless they were designed with hydrogen testing in mind. Hydrogen functions differently from other fuels and your existing safeties, like those to detect and manage leaks and fire hazards from more traditional fuel sources, won’t work with hydrogen testing. Testing hydrogen also comes with its own set of code and compliance requirements. We recommend conducting a process hazard analysis (PHA) as a first step when considering hydrogen testing.

When is my hydrogen safety system design safe enough?

To determine if your safety system design meets your safety standards and acceptable risk level, you need to compare it to your PHA. The PHA is where you will identify risks within the base system, and then come up with ways to mitigate them down to an acceptable level. If your PHA was thorough, then designing your hydrogen safety system around those acceptable risk levels will qualify as a sufficiently safe test system. We can guide you through conducting a comprehensive PHA.

At a minimum, a safe hydrogen test system will include redundancies, gas and flame detection rated for hydrogen systems, and a safety PLC. Using a PLC with an SIL (safety integrity level) rating will reduce the overall risk level of your test process.

How do differences between hydrogen and other fuels impact safety systems?

The Hydrogen molecule is smaller and lighter than most other fuels. Because of this, detecting it requires different types, quantities, and arrangements of safety sensors. Hydrogen also burns differently, so your existing flame detectors will likely need to be updated as well.

Hydrogen Fuel Storage and Distribution

How will hydrogen vendor selection impact my testing?

The first question is whether a hydrogen vendor is available in the local area where you want to do H2 testing. If your test facility is hundreds of miles away from the nearest company that can provide bulk hydrogen, it might not be the right location. When you compare potential bulk hydrogen vendors, find out what infrastructure they’re expecting at the connection point. We’ve found that vendors have the same general requirements but some of the details can deviate. Understanding the vendor’s exact specifications for the connection point is critical to proper design of the facility for hydrogen testing.

Can we use existing infrastructure to pipe the hydrogen from the tank to the test cell?

Hydrogen must be delivered through materials designed to withstand its high pressure. The delivery system also needs to meet safety requirements for clearances from electrical infrastructure, and those electric lines must also be rated for hydrogen.

How much room do I need to store hydrogen tanks?

How much hydrogen you need to store on-site depends on your testing process and articles being tested. However, you will likely need more space for storing bulk hydrogen than other fuels. Hydrogen tanks are stored externally and often delivered by semi-truck. Your design will have to include space to hold the tank, but also the logistical space for the semi-truck to get on and off site and for swapping out of the empty tank for the full one.