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Sandia Labs and Linde partner to expand hydrogen fueling network; performance-based design for stations

New Linde hydrogen station. Click to enlarge.

Sandia National Laboratories and Linde LLC have signed an umbrella Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) they expect to accelerate the development of low-carbon energy and industrial technologies, beginning with hydrogen and fuel cells.

The CRADA will begin with two new research and development projects to accelerate the expansion of hydrogen fueling stations to continue to support the market growth of fuel cell electric vehicles now emerging from the major auto manufacturers. The first will focus on performance-based design for hydrogen stations. The second focuses on safety aspects of the NFPA code.

Performance-based design. A recent Sandia study, funded by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), determined that 18% of fueling station sites in high-priority areas can readily accept hydrogen fueling systems using existing building codes. (Earlier post.)

The development of meaningful, science-based fire codes and determinations, such as those found in that study, shows that focusing on scientific, risk-informed approaches can reduce uncertainty and help to avoid overly conservative restrictions to commercial hydrogen fuel installations, Sandia researchers said.

Continuing down this path, the first project in the Sandia/Linde CRADA will be demonstrating a hydrogen fuel station that uses a performance-based design approach allowable under the National Fire Protection Association hydrogen technologies code, NFPA 2. The project will include support from the DOE.

California’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program states that Linde expects to open new fueling stations in late 2015.

NFPA 2 provides fundamental safeguards for the generation, installation, storage, piping, use and handling of hydrogen in compressed gas or cryogenic (low temperature) liquid form and is referenced by many fire officials in the permitting process for hydrogen fueling stations.

Sections of NFPA 2 are typically not utilized by station developers, as they instead have focused more on rigid distance requirements for fuel dispensers, air intakes, tanks, storage equipment and other infrastructure. We know we can get hydrogen systems into more existing fueling facilities if our risk analyses show how they meet the code. This will help boost the developing fuel-cell electric vehicle market significantly.

—Sandia risk expert and fire protection engineer Chris LaFleur

The project, LaFleur added, will provide a foundation for the hydrogen fueling industry to implement the performance-based approach to station design and permitting, leading to sustained expansion of the hydrogen fueling network. The pilot demonstration, she said, will provide clear evidence that a performance-based design is feasible.

Safety. The second project currently taking place under the new CRADA focuses on safety aspects of the NFPA code and entails the modeling of a liquid hydrogen release.

With Linde’s help, we’re developing a science-based approach for updating and improving the separation distances requirements for liquid hydrogen storage at fueling stations.

—Chris LaFleur

Previous work only examined separation distances for gaseous hydrogen, she said, so validation experiments will now be done on the liquid model.

Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility, for years considered a pre-eminent facility for studying hydrogen behavior and its effects on materials and engines, is a key element of the research.

This focus on improving the understanding of liquid hydrogen storage systems, LaFleur said, will result in more meaningful, science-based codes that will ensure the continued expansion of safe and available hydrogen fuel to meet fuel cell electric vehicle demands.

This CRADA work is aligned with Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST), an EERE project established earlier this year, and builds on over a decade of DOE investments in developing meaningful codes and standards to accelerate hydrogen and fuel cell markets in the US.

On Nov. 17, Toyota became the latest to unveil a fuel cell electric vehicle—Mirai (earlier post)—in the US. Last week, Linde opened the first fully certified commercial hydrogen fueling station near Sacramento with support from the California Energy Commission.



In order to just match the number of gasoline stations in the US (about 120,000), we would have to build 1 hydrogen filling station per week - for about 2,300 YEARS.

Ain't gonna happen.


That, my friend, is why I think electrics are going to win.  Almost nobody has hydrogen available.  Most people have an electric outlet on their house, in their garage, or park under a carport that would be relatively easy to wire.  The H2 FCEV has a huge chicken/egg problem; the PHEV is plug-and-play.


The number of EVs will be about 1 in 1000 vehicles in a few years. If the number of FCVs is 1 in 1000, you only need 120 stations.


Hydrogen is the most explosive and dangerous fuel that there is. The people at Sandia just don't care about the safety of the people of this country.


If you only have 120 H2 stations in the USA, there will be huge parts of the country where H2 FCEVs simply cannot go because they are out of range.  You'd have a hard time getting to that 1 in 1000 figure because of the limited usability of the vehicles.

120 Supercharger stations would go along way toward covering the US Interstate network for Tesla-class vehicles.  Any NEMA 3-prong outlet is an "emergency energy port" for the average EV, including all Teslas; an electric stove or electric dryer outlet is a very good one.  The country isn't covered for this yet, but it's already pretty good and very easy and cheap to make better.

Roger Pham

About 1000 stations ought to be enough to cover urban and suburban areas to have average driving distances of about 5-7 miles from home to a station, and 60 miles apart on interstates and major state hwys.

Any fuel can be explosive if miss handled. However, the sheer strength of the H2 tank has kept it intact even in the worst, not survivable crashes, based on crash testing, and fire from fuel leakage averted due to automatic fuel shut off.

Any fuel can be explosive if miss handled.

3.5% enriched UO2 won't explode no matter what you do to it.



I do not getting any point using hydrogen vs natural gas. Somebody tell me.


A recent survey concluded that over 82% of potential vehicle owners DO NOT have access to e-charging facilities.

That is our case, in our high rise condo building. To equip the 148 internal garages and 52 external parking places with adequate Level II charging facilities, would cost between $4K and $6K per space. Getting the majority to accept will take years.

A very quick charge H2 station within 5 to 10 Km would be acceptable with 500+ Km range FCEVs.

The same could be said about extended range (500+ Km) BEVs if you could recharge in 10 minutes or less.

Roger Pham

Hydrogen can be made from Renewable Energy (RE)easily. Natural gas is fossil fuel. It is possible to synthesize methane from RE but it would be more difficult and less efficient.


This is a costly but non-polluting mistake as their hydrogen is too costly and it won't be profitable. Me I paid 10x less for my gasoline car.


Harvey, you don't need Level II right out of the gate.  Level I will do for PHEVs.

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