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DOE’s HyStEP device will accelerate hydrogen refueling station commissioning

The Hydrogen Station Equipment Performance device (HyStEP) (earlier post), developed by US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), could reduce the time to commission new hydrogen refueling stations from months to just one week.

The primary purpose of the HyStEP Device is to be used by a certification agency to measure the performance of hydrogen dispensers with respect to the required fueling protocol standard. Specifically, the device has been designed to carry out the test methods of CSA HGV 4.3 to measure that stations follow the fueling protocols standard SAE J2601-2014 including IrDA communications per SAE J2799.

The HyStEP Device includes three Type IV 70 MPa tanks capable of storing a total of 9 kg H2 that are instrumented with pressure and temperature sensors. The tanks are connected to a 70 MPa receptacle equipped with pressure and temperature sensors as well as IrDA communications integrated with a data acquisition, analysis, and control system.

HyStEP (Hydrogen Station Equipment Performance) Device. Click to enlarge.

A valve near the receptacle attached to a vent manifold can be used to both simulate a leak for fault detection tests and for controlled defueling. A nitrogen purge system is also included. Additional temperature sensors record ambient temperature near the receptacle and various external system temperatures.

The HyStEP Device is capable of performing key tests defined in CSA HGV 4.3. These include IrDA communication tests, fault detection tests, and communication and non-communication fills at 35 and 70 MPa.

HyStEP is funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office as part of the Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project.

Industry stakeholders identified station commissioning as a challenge that the national laboratories have the resources to address.

—Joe Pratt, Sandia H2FIRST project lead

Sandia and NREL contracted with Powertech Labs to build the HyStEP device.

California is leading the nation with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, with the most FCEVs on the road of any state and plans to open 35 new retail hydrogen stations by the end of 2016. Sandia and NREL’s work on H2FIRST and in enabling modern codes and standards for the design, construction and operation of hydrogen refueling stations is helping drive that momentum.

The current practice of commissioning hydrogen refueling stations is slow because each automotive manufacturer performs its own validation tests to measure the performance of hydrogen dispensers with respect to fueling protocol standards. Each test takes one to two weeks, so commissioning can take months.

HyStEP acts as a surrogate for vehicles, eliminating the need for each automotive manufacturer to test separately. HyStEP is equipped with modular tanks and all of the instrumentation that automotive manufacturers would use in performing their own tests.

HyStEP addresses the two primary concerns of automotive manufacturers: keeping their testing data proprietary and ensuring the performance of the hydrogen dispenser.

—Sandia mechanical engineer Terry Johnson, project lead for HyStEP

Since automotive manufacturers must trust the device’s ability to provide the same results they’d achieve with their own test vehicles, manufacturers needed to be involved from the start. In addition to Sandia and NREL, the project team included Air Liquide, Boyd Hydrogen, the California Air Resources Board and Toyota Motor Corp.

HyStEP initially will be used to accelerate commissioning of refueling stations in California. Eventually it could be used in other states as they develop hydrogen refueling networks.

HyStEP recently underwent validation testing at NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility in Golden, Colorado, and is now undergoing pre-deployment testing at refueling stations at California State University Los Angeles and the South Coast Air Quality Management District headquarters. Early in 2016, the Air Resources Board in collaboration with other state agencies will begin using HyStEP to support the commissioning of new stations. Additional automotive manufacturers, including Daimler AG, BMW and Honda, are contributing to that effort.

HyStEP will help California meet its ambitious goal of commissioning up to 35 new refueling stations by the end of 2016—one new station every one to two weeks. The target is a hydrogen-refueling network of more than 50 retail stations in this timeframe, primarily in the Los Angeles metro area, Orange County and the Bay Area.

This test device will help speed up and streamline how we validate retail stations to meet customer demands for high performance fueling. This is essential to a successful market, as fuel cell vehicles are already being shipped to California and we expect many new customers using hydrogen stations in 2016.

—Catherine Dunwoody, chief of the fuel cell program at the California Air Resources Board

Sandia and NREL will use the data from the validation tests to further develop codes and standards for hydrogen infrastructure. In addition to his role as HyStEP lead, Johnson is also on the CSA Group committee that is developing test methods for SAE’s standard defining refueling protocols.



More good news for future FCEVs?

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