Hydrogen fuel cell safety regulations in WA

This announcement is for: 
Gas worker

Hydrogen is an odourless, tasteless, colourless, non-toxic, and flammable gas. It reacts readily with oxygen, releasing a considerable amount of energy as heat and producing only water as a by-product. It is also used in fuel cells to produce electricity.

The difference between a fuel cell and a battery

Both fuel cells and batteries supply electricity. However, there are important differences in the internal construction and capabilities of fuel cells and batteries. The key difference is that a fuel cell can supply electricity for a longer duration of time in comparison to that of a battery.

How does a hydrogen fuel cell work?

A fuel cell consists of three main components:

  • A negative electrode “Anode”.
  • A positive electrode “Cathode”.
  • Electrolyte.

Hydrogen enters the anode compartment, and air enters the cathode compartment.

In the anode compartment, the hydrogen molecules are separated into electrons and protons. The electrons flow through an outside electric circuit to the cathode, creating electric power. The protons migrate across the electrolyte to the cathode, where they bond with oxygen in the air and the electrons to form water vapour and heat.

Single fuel cells do not generate a large amount of electricity, so they are assembled into stacks to create enough power for their intended purposes, such as powering a small digital device or a power plant.

Hydrogen fuel cell
Hydrogen fuel cell, by Gas
Hydrogen fuel cell

Emerging market for hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen fuel cells have been researched and developed for use in several applications, such as:

  • Portable power generation, as in laptops, cellular phones, power tools, military equipment, battery chargers, unattended sensors, and unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles.
  • Stationary power generation to generate electricity in a small off-grid network. 
  • Transportation, as in automobiles, buses, utility vehicles, scooters, and bicycles.

Hydrogen fuel cells in the Gas Standards Act 1972 (GSA)

The Gas Standards Act 1972 (GSA) in Western Australia sets the standards and safety of gas installations and gas appliances. As per section 4 of the GSA, gas appliances are classified as:

  • Type A gas appliance means a gas appliance of a prescribed class or type. Type A gas appliances are prescribed in Regulation 42B of the Gas Standards (Gasfitting and Consumer Gas Installations) Regulations 1999.
  • Type B gas appliance means a gas appliance that has a maximum hourly input rate exceeding 10 megajoules that is neither a Type A gas appliance nor a mobile engine, as defined in the Gas Standards (Gasfitting and Consumer Gas Installations) Regulations 1999.

Hydrogen fuel cells are Type B gas appliances and will require approval if installed in a consumer installation, i.e. if the gas is supplied by a gas supplier.

Who can install a Hydrogen fuel cell?

Building and Energy is actively working with national bodies and committees to establish a unit of competency for working with hydrogen.

Until any national qualification framework is established, Building and Energy has been assessing each hydrogen fuel cell project on a case by case basis and providing the industry with the required regulatory advice to avoid adverse effects on projects and innovations.

Hydrogen fuel cells and their installation compliance requirements:

Appliance: The Government Gazette published on 29 March 2022 details standards that are to be used as a benchmark for hydrogen fuel cells for the purpose of approval requirements. Further information can be found here.

Installation: The Standards Australia ME-093 Hydrogen Technologies Committee, is developing Standards for use in Australia covering all aspects of the emerging hydrogen industry.

Until the Standards are captured in the Gas Standards (Gasfitting and Consumer Gas Installations) Regulations 1999 we recommend referring to AS 62282.3.300 Stationary fuel cell power systems – Installation for compliance requirements. 

For further information on regulatory advice on the safe installation of Hydrogen fuel cells and its approval requirements, contact Building and Energy’s Principal Engineer Gas.

Phone: (08) 6251 1900 - Fax: (08) 6251 1901

Email: be.info@dmirs.wa.gov.au


Building and Energy
Department News
31 May 2022

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