How do you conveniently measure something that not only is 14 times lighter than air but also invisible? That's just one of the tasks National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Weights and Measures Division staff have taken on to prepare the nation for the hydrogen economy.
Under an interagency agreement signed last month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asked NIST to intensify efforts to develop the standards, test procedures and test methods needed to buy and sell hydrogen in the marketplace as easily as we now deal in gasoline. To plan for the effort, NIST and DOE are sponsoring a U.S. National Work Group for the Development of Hydrogen Measurement Standards meeting, October 3-4 in Gaithersburg, Md. Participants will include regulatory officials, equipment manufacturers and representatives from alternative fuel organizations and laboratories working on hydrogen refueling measurement.
NIST's work supports President Bush's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative that aims to reverse the nation's growing dependence on foreign oil by developing the technology needed for commercially viable, hydrogen-powered fuel cells. Accurate measurements and performance standards are critical to U.S. development and implementation of the new technology. Virtually every stage of hydrogen production, distribution and sales requires new measurement tests and methodologies to establish confidence in the transactions.
The participants in the Gaithersburg meeting will lay a foundation to develop a comprehensive set of commercial hydrogen measurement standards that encompasses: gaseous and liquid measuring devices and related equipment codes; method of sale, marking and labeling requirements, fuel quality standards, sampling procedures, inspection procedures, equipment suitability and safety practices. Participants will work to ensure there is harmonization between related national and international standards. They will also discuss hydrogen measurement training for officials and service companies as well as consumer education of the public on hydrogen measurement.
NIST will issue a report on the meeting in November. NIST's DOE-sponsored hydrogen standards work complements American Competitiveness Initiative support for NIST's work on hydrogen standards over the next five years.