A Scottish engineering laboratory will develop equipment to ensure standards across the UK’s hydrogen fuelling stations.
The TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory, based in East Kilbride, will create the UK’s first mobile primary standard facility, which will be used to ensure fuelling stations deliver the right amount of fuel.
In addition, the laboratory has chosen Edinburgh-based hydrogen technology specialist Logan Energy to construct the facility.
The project will be funded by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), through the National Measurement System mechanism.
Compared to fuelling a petrol or diesel-powered vehicle, fuelling a hydrogen-fuelled vehicle is far more difficult. A secure connection needs to be made between the vehicle and the pump to ensure that hydrogen is not lost during fuelling. Furthermore, differences in pressure between the pump and vehicle can affect refuelling.
The mobile facility will be used to ensure that the pump dispenses an accurate and consistent amount of fuel. This will assure drivers of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) that financial transactions are correct.
Technical Director at TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory Dr Martin Hanton said: “The design of petrol and diesel refuelling stations is highly standardised and if hydrogen FCEVs are to become a viable transport choice, then establishing a standardised refuelling infrastructure is crucial.
“Ensuring the consumer gets what they pay for at the refuelling station necessitates accuracy at the nozzle, not the meter. We must therefore bring the calibration facility to the refuelling station and that is precisely what we will do with our new mobile primary standard.”
Currently, international accuracy requirements for hydrogen fuel dispensers require them to have a margin of error of ±2% for new installations. However, current ranges can be anywhere between ±1 – 10%.
Furthermore, if a consumer disputes the dispensed volume, Trading Standards cannot investigate at present as the UK currently has no traceability chain that is linked to a physical primary standard for hydrogen, or the equipment and skills to test fuel dispensers.
The test facility will be used as part of a research campaign to update industry guidance for creating new hydrogen fuel stations.
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At present, the UK has 13 hydrogen fuel stations, with only one currently in Scotland, the European Hydrogen Transport Project in Aberdeen. Logan Energy was recently selected to supply two additional hydrogen refuelling stations in Teesside and another one in Wallyford.
As part of the UK government’s £12 billion green industrial plan, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that £240 million will go to creating 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030.
With the UK currently looking to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, demand will rise for zero-emission alternatives, including hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Scotland has been touted as a potential major source of hydrogen. A recent agreement between Scottish and German wind energy groups is looking to use Scotland’s offshore wind resources to generate green hydrogen.