Businesses need clearly defined rules to popularize new technologies among a wide variety of users. Because those in the rapidly growing market for fuel cell devices have seen limited success in standardization, several companies and institutions are now trying to create a shared set of recommendations.
A standard developed by a committee represents the global consensus in a market. Although standards are not legally binding, they can become mandatory by implementing legal or administrative regulations at the national or global level or by entering into a special agreement. In essence, they are suggestions made by private-sector associations, such as DIN, DKE, IEC and ISO, to help synchronize manufacturing with workflow. They are general in nature and intended to engender trust in new products, technologies or services, ensure quality and spread innovation. In addition, they provide solutions for safety issues raised by multiple companies aiming for more marketable products.
Without exception, committees devise these rules independent of any one manufacturer. This strengthens the position of users in relation to suppliers, as the standards state the most recent level of technological progress, which may prove relevant in a court case. Therefore, they describe the minimum requirements for competition and the market in general.
A standard is created by technical experts in partnership with stakeholders to ensure that it will be in continued use. Draft versions are published early on, so that everyone can familiarize themselves with the topic and voice their opinions. Mirror committees have been set up in each country to coordinate the effort and present a joint nationwide approach when dealing with international associations. Every standard is also updated and revised regularly to take scientific and technological advances into account.
How standardized does it need to be?
Fuel cells have a vast array of uses and these uses involve several issues related to standardization. As a result, the IEC created an entire family of standards to cover multiple technologies. For example, the IEC 62282 series contains recommendations for areas such as safety tests of fuel cell modules as part of IEC 62282-2 and, in the third subpart IEC 62282-3, rules on the installation, safety and performance of stationary systems. More recent additions include IEC 62282-8, which describes procedures for testing the single-cell and stack performance of PEM fuel cell modules, and IEC 62282-6, which deals with micro-size fuel cell devices.
read more: H2-international October 2018
Written by: Thomas Jungmann, Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE, Freiburg, Germany
Dr. Alexander Dyck, DLR-Institut für Vernetzte Energiesysteme e. V., Oldenburg, Germany