Standardizing refueling systems isn't a quick process, and a new set of fueling standards for hydrogen stations were about 13 years in the making. But SAE International (SAE stands for Society of Automotive Engineers) said this week that it finally settled on a hydrogen refueling standard for light-duty vehicles. For the record, it's called SAE J2601.

The standard is for both 35 and 70 megapascals (MPa) pressure systems for commercial refueling of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Most importantly, the standards allow for a refueling time in the three- to five-minute timeframe, which is comparable to the time it takes to fill up the tank with gasoline – at least one that's not on a semi truck.

Automakers are just starting to get the ball rolling on production-ready hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Hyundai's first Tucson fuel-cell crossovers showed up in California in May. And Toyota, which has long maintained that it will debut its first production hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in 2015, may have some of those cars in showrooms by the end of the year, perhaps starting in the $78,000 range.

Granted, there are just a dozen hydrogen fueling stations in the US, including 10 in California, one in Connecticut and one in South Carolina (Los Angeles just added another one in May). This spring, Toyota and FirstElement Fuel Inc., which is headed by ex-GM and Hyundai executive Joel Ewanick, said they would work together on a project that would add as many as 19 hydrogen refueling stations in California during the next few years. You can check out SAE International's press release below.
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Commercial Hydrogen Fueling Made Possible with a New SAE Standard (J2601)

Washington, D.C. (July 16, 2014) – SAE International (www.sae.org), the global engineering association that sets technical standards for the automotive, aerospace and commercial vehicle industry, today approved a light duty vehicle hydrogen fueling standard (SAE J2601) that will serve as a baseline for commercial fueling of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) worldwide.

FCEVs utilize hydrogen to produce electricity through a chemical process, without combustion. This means FCEVs are zero-emission vehicles that produce no tailpipe pollution and now with the SAE standard, these vehicles can be fueled similar to today's petroleum vehicles. The standard enables hydrogen fueling at both 35MPa and 70MPa pressures.

Jesse Schneider, lead of the J2601/J2799 SAE standards for hydrogen fueling explained, "After 13 years of testing and development with the international automotive and hydrogen industry, the publication of SAE J2601 establishes the standard for which the first generation of commercial hydrogen infrastructure will be built. With this, the consumer can be confident that fueling FCEVs will be done safely and within three-to-five minutes resulting in a high State of Charge. This high SOC equates to a more than 300+ mile (500km) range. Using J2601, FCEV is the only Zero Emission Vehicle technology that equals the conventional fueling experience and range."

The data validating SAE J2601 -from automakers and hydrogen fuel providers- has been documented in the 2014 SAE World Congress Technical Paper (2014-01-1833).

This standard release follows the May 2014 publication of Vehicle-to-Station Hardware and Software standard for FCEVs (SAE J2799) which standardizes wireless communication of the tank temperature and pressure between the FCEV and the hydrogen station. "The standard, SAE J2799 also will result in slight increase in State of Charge allowing an even greater driving range," Mr. Schneider added.

The Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA, www.fchea.org) believes SAE's standards will help expand the growing market for FCEVs.

"SAE's light duty vehicle fueling standards for hydrogen marks a crucial step forward for the entire FCEV community, including dealers, fueling station operators, hydrogen producers and vehicle manufacturers. These standards allow FCEV consumers worldwide to consistently fill-up with hydrogen in a short amount of time, a major victory for consumers, and those who support zero-emission vehicles," said FCHEA President and Executive Director Morry B. Markowitz.

"Many of the world's premier automotive companies plan mass-production of FCEVs starting this year, thousands of FCEVs are already on the road through leasing arrangements and private fleet purchases, and public and private fueling stations are operating across the country, with many more planned for completion through 2015," said Mr. Markowitz. "SAE's decisions make it easier for more consumers to safely own and operate FCEVs today, tomorrow and in the years ahead," he concluded.

SAE J2601 and SAE J2799 published standards are found in the following links:

http://standards.sae.org/j2601_201407/

http://standards.sae.org/j2799_200 705/