EMPIR project work underpinning hydrogen as a clean fuel

Hydrogen fuel cell car

For the first time in Europe impurity measurements at the highest accuracy levels have been performed on real hydrogen samples

EMPIR project Metrology for sustainable hydrogen energy applications (15NRM03, Hydrogen) developed improved hydrogen quality specifications for fuel cell vehicles together with analytical techniques to enable traceable measurements of hydrogen impurities.

The EU Energy Strategy for transport and the dedicated European policy objectives encourage the wide use of hydrogen for the transport sector. However, impurities present in this gas can cause damage or degradation in vehicle fuel cells.


For the first time, at a European level, impurity measurements at the highest accuracy levels were performed on 20 real hydrogen samples from different production sites throughout Europe.

The outputs from this collaborative project were used to feed into the revision or development of four ISO standards, which were previously too generic for the rapidly expanding range of hydrogen-energy applications, to ensure that they address the needs of this burgeoning sector.

The new or upgraded normative standards describing the measurements required to ensure fuel quality are:

  • ISO 14687 Hydrogen fuel quality – product specification
  • ISO 16111 Transportable gas storage devices – hydrogen absorbed in reversible metal hydride
  • ISO 19880-8 Gaseous hydrogen – fueling stations
  • ISO 21087 Gas analysis – analytical methods for hydrogen fuel

These types of measurements are vital to support and promote the use of this fuel source.          

Project Coordinator Jacques Hameury, from LNE, said ‘'The project started the metrological work related to measurements of impurities in hydrogen for fuel cells applications, at a reference level in the EU. The project validated the pragmatic approach consisting of analysing the hydrogen production process in order to determine the probability of the occurrence of impurities. The project also showed that fit for purpose multi-component analysers are likely to reduce costs for the assessment of hydrogen purity. Nevertheless, metrological work is still to be carried out for validating techniques and protocols for the measurement of contaminant levels, particularly when thresholds are very low.’

EMN for energy gases

The European Metrology Network (EMN) for Energy Gases provides measurement science expertise to society and industry to support the implementation of the energy transition to renewable gaseous fuels. By bridging the gap between research and end-user communities and acting as a central nucleus for measurement science activities, the EMN for Energy Gases works to facilitate a safe, reliable, and diverse energy network for the future.

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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