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HYSAST - Hydrogen Safety in Storage and Transport

The HYSAST action supports the safe and cost-effective market penetration of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in vehicles and as an energy storage medium for renewable energy systems. The action focuses on the development of harmonised and validated measurement techniques, test protocols and safety assessment procedures to support regulatory and standardisation activities at European and international level, covering both vehicles and the hydrogen infrastructure. The information and data used to provide S&T support is obtained from a combination of laboratory work, networking and desktop studies.

As part of its support to EU Policies related to hydrogen HySAST activities align with the priorities defined in the Multi-Annual Implementation Plan (MAIP) of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (FCH JTI). This is achieved by establishing and operating reference laboratories on compressed hydrogen storage, solid-state storage systems and hydrogen detection that feed directly into the JTI and that also contribute to the implementation of an independent and expert verification and assessment framework to assess progress in JTI projects. Next to directly supporting the legislator and regulator (thus serving the public interest), this effort will provide the automotive, transport and energy industry with harmonised information and evaluation tools for designing or assessing performance of on-board and stationary energy storage systems needed for the cost-effective and safe deployment of hydrogen technologies.

In support of these activities the action has 3 dedicated state-of-the-art experimental facilities:

These facilities are supplemented by the development and application of computational tools for numerical modelling of hydrogen releases, dispersion and safety scenarios.

1. Policies related to hydrogen

As an energy carrier, hydrogen can store and deliver energy in a widely useable form and is one of the most promising alternative fuels for future energy applications. Using available renewable sources it can be produced pollution-free, without carbon dioxide emissions and decreases our dependence on dwindling oil reserves. However significant development is needed before hydrogen can be exploited in the same way as conventional fossil fuels. This will require a coherent and coordinated European strategy which will encompass research and development, demonstration, application and standardisation.

The integrated Energy and Climate Change Package endorsed by the March 2007 Spring Council constitutes the starting point of a European Energy Technology policy reflected in the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan The SET Plan identifies fuel cell and hydrogen technologies as being critical for enabling the EU to reach its ambitious goals of 20% renewables, 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and 20% energy efficiency increase by 2020.

In May 2008, the European Council adopted a Regulation setting up the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (FCH JTI) to facilitate the commercial deployment of fuel cell technologies in a strong public private partnership. The JTI, with a budget of one billion Euros during its 2008-2017 life span, is the first of the set of European Industrial Initiatives identified in the SET-Plan.


2. Joint Technology Initiatives

Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) are public-private partnerships established at European level to address strategic areas where research and innovation are essential to European competitiveness. Within the Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities (FP7), JTIs support large-scale multi-national research activities and bring together private and public partners to define common objectives of wide societal importance and to effectively combine funding and knowledge in order to fulfil these objectives.


3. The Role of the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen JTI

In May 2008, the European Council adopted Council Regulation (EC) 521/2008 setting up the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (FCH-JTI). The FCH-JTI is an industry-led Public-Private-Partnership, joint funded from the Community and from industry. The aim of the FCH-JTI is to accelerate the development of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies in Europe, thereby enabling their commercialisation between 2010 and 2020. This will be achieved by implementing an integrated programme of streamlined, basic, industrial and applied R&D activities including demonstration and support actions focused on the most promising applications. The FCH-JTI was officially launched at the First Stakeholders General Assembly in Brussels on 14-15 October 2008. With a budget of one billion Euros during its 2008-2017 life span the FCH-JTI is the first working example of future European Industrial Initiatives, as foreseen by the SET-plan which is to play a vital role in accelerating the development and implementation of low carbon technologies.


4. JRC-IE Support to the FCH-JTI

The Joint Research Centre, Institute for Energy (JRC-IE) of the European Commission performs research targeting the development of methodologies and facilities for measuring the properties and assessing the performance of hydrogen storage technologies, hydrogen detection techniques and fuel cell systems. This in-house R&D, executed by networking with European and international partners, has two main strands:

  1. It focuses on the establishment and improvement of adequate, harmonised approaches that allow assessment of relevant properties and characteristics of new and improved materials, technologies and products, as well as on safety studies. This activity includes quantification of the accuracy, reproducibility, sensitivity, etc. of the test methods through own R&D as well as through the organisation of and participation in international inter-laboratory exercises.
  2. It aims at assessing and quantifying the performance of new technologies and products in terms of emissions to the environment, safety, reliability, efficiency, etc., thus allowing evaluating their contribution to EU policy objectives.

The JRC-IE supports the activities of the FCH-JTI by providing the output from their institutional pre-normative research (PNR) and regulations, codes and standards (RCS) activities as an in-kind contribution to the FCH-Joint Undertaking (JU) which is the legal entityof the FCH-JTi.


5. PNR and RCS activities of the JRC-IE

a) Fuel Cell Technologies - FCPoint Action

  • Info Sheet Fuel Cell testing (pdf) [EN] - [NL] - [FR] - [IT]
  • Info Sheet Fuel Cell Testing Facilities (pdf) [EN] - [NL] - [IT]


b) Hydrogen Technologies - HySaST Action

The HySaST Action supports the safe and cost-effective penetration of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in vehicles and as an energy storage medium for renewable energy systems, complementary to other energy storage solutions.

The activities of the HySaST action focus on the establishment and improvement of adequate, harmonised approaches that allow assessment of relevant properties and characteristics of new and improved materials, technologies and products, as well as on related safety studies. More specifically pre-normative and underpinning research is performed for the development and improvement of performance characterisation methodologies for hydrogen storage, detection and safety. In addition S&T input is provided to the Community and to international standardisation and regulatory bodies in this field and the action acts as a reference on hydrogen storage, detection and safety related activities to the FCH-JTI.

Several dedicated state-of-the-art testing facilities include:

  • A facility for full-scale testing of high-pressure hydrogen (and natural gas) tanks for vehicles ? the laboratory is capable of performing vehicle tank permeation tests and high pressure cycling experiments.
  • A facility for performance characterisation of materials for solid-state hydrogen storage ? the laboratory is equipped with various gravimetric, volumetric and spectroscopic instrumentation for the characterisation of solid-state hydrogen storage materials and systems.
  • A facility for performance characterisation of hydrogen sensors for safety - for the performance assessment of hydrogen safety sensors under various static, dynamic and cycling conditions.

These facilities are supplemented by the development and application of computational tools for numerical modelling of hydrogen releases, dispersion and safety scenarios.

The output of HySaST pre-normative research (PNR) feeds into the following international, standardisation and regulatory activities in which the JRC-IE is actively involved:

  • European Committee for Standardization (CEN)
  • International Standard Organization for standardization (ISO) - TC 197
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) - WP 29
  • International Energy Agency Hydrogen Implementing Agreement (IEA/HIA) - Task 22
  • International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE)
  • United States Department of Energy (US-DoE)

Based on its existing expertise and testing facilities the HySaST action is an established centre for pre-normative research (PNR) on compressed hydrogen storage, solid hydrogen storage and hydrogen detection technologies. Furthermore as an independent supranational institution, the European Commission's JRC-IE assures that the S&T input provided to regulatory bodies into the standardization process is truly impartial and free from financial, commercial or national interests.


c) Contact - HySaST Action

If you would like to learn more on how the JRC-IE can help organisations and consortia in the field of PNR for hydrogen technologies and safety related issues please contact:

pietro [dot] morettoatjrc [dot] nl (Dr. Pietro Moretto)
European Commission Joint Research Centre
Institute for Energy
Tel. +31 (0) 224 565269
Email: pietro [dot] morettoatjrc [dot] nl



Storage of gases under pressure, including hydrogen, is a rather well-known technique. However the use of hydrogen tanks in vehicles, and in particular the challenge of using very high pressures, requires new safety and performance studies. The JRC-IE uses the Gas Testing Facility (GasTeF) for carrying out tests on high pressure vehicle tanks for hydrogen (H2) or natural gas (CH4). Typical tests are:

Cycling tests: Vehicle tanks are repeatedly fast-filled using real gas and emptied slowly at least 1000 times to simulate their lifetime in a road vehicle. The maximum pressure is 350 bar and the filling time is less than 3 minutes. During this cycling process, the tank is monitored for leaks and permeation rates using a gas chromatograph. The maximum pressure will be increased to 700 bar in the near future.

Permeation tests: Tanks are filled up to 700 bar and the permeation of the system is measured as a function of time. It is possible to control ambient and tank temperatures up to at least 85°C.

The testing of other high-pressure components such as valves and pipes is also possible.



The Solid-state Hydrogen Storage Testing Facility is dedicated to the testing and performance assessment of potential hydrogen storage materials. The laboratory is equipped with instruments which can measure how much and how quickly materials can reversibly store hydrogen and under which conditions. Experiments cover a variety of materials and testing conditions and the research is complemented by in-house microstructural analysis studies.

In view of the large disparity in hydrogen sorption data reported in the literature, the laboratory focuses on comparing measurements made using different techniques. The activity identifies discrepancies and potential error sources, and suggests improvements in testing procedures and measurements to achieve reliable, reproducible and accurate data. The laboratory is currently involved in European and international collaborative projects for testing hydrogen storage materials. and offers its services for 'second opinion' measurements to European research centres and university groups that develop new materials, and serves as a training ground for aspiring young scientists active in this challenging field.



The Sensor Testing Facility (SenTeF) assesses the performance of hydrogen sensors under a wide range of environmental conditions. Hydrogen can not be detected by human senses making the use of suitable detection devices (sensors) necessary. Since hydrogen leaks can be hazardous if not detected quickly reliable detection systems need to be tested, and their performance validated so that they can be safely deployed wherever hydrogen is produced, stored, distributed or used. In collaboration with international and European partners, the facility is used in interlaboratory experimental programmes aimed at preparing guidelines for testing hydrogen sensors, assessing their performance and reliability and providing feedback on the results to sensor manufacturers and end users.



The widespread use of hydrogen requires the distribution and storage of large quantities of hydrogen. Bearing this in mind it is essential to understand the safety implications of potential accident situations. The HyMode project uses Computational Fluid Dynamics tools allow release, dispersion and combustion of hydrogen to be modelled and compared with releases of other gases (e.g. natural gas) to understand and minimise the risks involved in hydrogen use.