Codes & Standards

Codes & Standards

To deploy fuel cell electric vehicles and hydrogen stations, it’s important to understand the regulatory framework and approval processes for the production, storage and use of fuel gases and flammable gases. The Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Safety Report contains much of the information about U.S. and international codes and standards development. The information on this page is an easy-to-use resource to the information authorities having jurisdiction commonly request.

What are codes & standards? +

A standard consists of technical definitions and guidelines that function as instructions for designers/manufacturers and operators/users of equipment. Standards are considered voluntary because they are guidelines and not enforceable by law.

A code is a standard that has been adopted by one or more governmental bodies and is enforceable by law.

H2USA’s article provides a good overview of codes, standards, regulations, technical specifications, technical reports, information reports and recommended practices.

Codes and standards for components and systems are generally offered for sale by the code or standard development organizations that developed and published them, suc as the National Fire Protection Association or the International Code CouncilRegulations are typically available to view or download without a fee, such as Code of Federal Regulations.

Why are they needed? +

Large quantities of gaseous hydrogen have been used for more than 50 years for petroleum refining, making ammonia for fertilizer, food processing, semiconductor, glass and steel industries, and by electric utilities as fuel or a coolant for large turbine generators. Industrial safety rules, regulations, standards and codes for transporting and using industrial hydrogen have resulted in an outstanding safety record and are adequate for the start of the FCEV market. As use of hydrogen for fuel cell electric vehicles becomes more widespread, new codes, standards and regulations may be needed. Industry and government are working togather to: 

  1. Identify safety-related issues associated with the production and use of hydrogen-fueled systems
  2. Develop or update, and then validate codes, standards and regulation relating to the safe transportation, use and servicing of hydrogen-fueled systems.
  3. Address special requirements for hydrogen produced from renewable sources, including sunlight, wind power and biomass.

Codes and standards development is occurring in advance of, or in parallel with applications for hydrogen-fueled systems. Efforts are underway to create domestic and international consensus standards; develop enforceable building, fire, mechanical, plumbing, and other building code provisions; and to harmonize requirements from different countries to facilitate international trade.
Who is involved?  +

Code Development Organizations (CDOs) create requirements for the built environment, including building, fire, mechanical and plumbing codes. Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) create and maintain standards, technical reports, best practices, and other documents in the technical discipline for which they have the national or international remit. The Hydrogen and Fuel Safety website provides a Matrix of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Codes, Standards and Regulations that lists disciplines and the responsible organizations.

United States:
In the U.S., H2USA and other stakeholders work with the two Model Code Development Organizations--NFPA and ICC--that provide processes for public code change proposals. Over the past eight years, industry has been working closely with these organizations to include changes to facilitate the approval of hydrogen and fuel cell installations, including hydrogen fueling stations. Procedures and timelines differ between the ICC and NFPA, Each organization publishes their procedures as well as deadlines for the various code development cycles on their websites. H2USA has several industry and staff members who are active on NFPA Technical Committees and are familiar with the code change proceeses of both NFPA and ICC.


Local and state jurisdictions adopt building and fire codes according to their needs, and may adopt a Model Code in its entirety, or develop modifications. Extensive efforts in the U.S. are underway to identify areas where requirements for hydrogen energy systems may be technically different, and work through the open code development processes to harmonize requirements.

U.S. SDOs are organizations with a remit to develop standards for specific technology areas. For example, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) develops and maintains Boiler and Pressure Vessel Standards. The Compressed Gas Association (CGA) develops and publishes technical information, standards, and recommendations for safe and environmentally responsible practices in the manufacture, storage, transportation, distribution, and use of industrial gases. SAE International is responsible for fuel cell electric vehicle standards, including the vehicle side of dispensing. There are many U.S. SDOs involved in developing requirements for hydrogen energy systems. 

An excellent resource for understanding which organizations are involved, and the progress of these efforts is through the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Codes and Standards Coordinating Committee. This group meets monthly, usually by phone. Minutes of the calls are posted in the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Safety Report. These can be reviewed each month as they are posted, or by viewing the pages dedicated to this group.  Jim Ohi's Hydrogen Codes and Standards presentation provides a good introduction to the U.S. effort.

How do I keep track of all these efforts?  +

The National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Codes and Standards Coordination Committee provides tools and information to follow progress with regulations, codes and standards and to help determine where to spend your organization's resources. 

Websites of Interest +

Codes and Standards URL’s of Interest

Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Safety

Hydrogen/Fuel Cell Standards

Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association - RCS Matrix

Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association - CSA update

Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy - Safety, Codes and Standards

U.S. DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program - Codes and Standards

California Fuel Cell Parnership - Codes and Standards for Hydrogen Technologies in California

National Renewable Energy Laboratory - Regulations, Codes, and Standards Template for California Hydrogen Dispensing Stations

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs,4601,7-154-35299_42271_4115_4237-193832--,00.html

Massachusetts Hydrogen Coalition

U.S. Department of Labor - Occupational Safety & Health Administration

National Fire Protection Association: U.S. Model Code relating to Tunnels – NFPA 502

NFPA 1: Fire Code Handbook, 2012 Edition - Repair Garages

National Fire Protection Association - NFPA 2: Hydrogen Technologies Code