Measuring the quality of hydrogen is often, unjustifiably, viewed as time-consuming and expensive. Rather, it helps to better understand and improve technical processes. The path to regular quality measurements of hydrogen is being intensely debated as we speak.
Fuel cell manufacturers demand from hydrogen producers that the gas meets very high purity requirements to prevent damage to their fuel cells. In turn, producers of hydrogen are calling for more robust fuel cell systems to be able to decrease purity and cut costs.
Current discourse often ignores the reason why quality assurance is important to the entire industry. It serves to engender trust in the technology as an increasing number of hydrogen systems are becoming available for sale. Thus, measurements should first and foremost benefit the users of these systems.
More and more fuel cell vehicles are being brought to market these days. A failure of these first consumer fuel cell vehicles could severely tarnish the reputation of an emerging hydrogen economy. This alone should be reason enough to implement measures to ensure that the hydrogen is of high quality.
Low-quality gas could damage not only fuel cells but also other components in the process chain. For example, frozen impurities could put seals and valve heads at risk. Storage systems, such as metal hydride tanks, could suffer as well.
To prevent damage, it is important to conduct regular quality inspections along the supply chain. This is equally true for traditional fuels: Even today, they are still tested in regular intervals. Leading oil corporations have said that they test their fuels for harmful substances at least 6,000 times a year. These inspections cover everything from production, transport and distribution to refueling at gas stations and ensure that the technical processes involved in supply chain management are highly efficient and cost-effective.
read more in H2-international April 2019