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Hydrogen Refuelling Stations

An essential factor for the broad acceptance of hydrogen-based mobility is the availability of filling stations that operate reliably, safely, and efficiently. Digital quality infrastructure and modern monitoring concepts ensure the safety and reliability of hydrogen refuelling stations and contribute to their economic viability.

In our pilot project, we are setting up a hydrogen refuelling station as a living lab. Representing the overall system of a hydrogen infrastructure with special requirements for safety and quality, we are developing digital-based solutions for a new level of quality assurance.

Concrete measures:

  • ​​​Mapping of digital processes along the entire value chain of a filling station
  • Sensor-supported processes for quality-assured data acquisition and evaluation
  • Development of a data infrastructure
  • Development of a digital twin
  • Digital Process monitoring (online monitoring) of safety in operation
  • Development and testing of digital structural elements of QI, in particular, the QI Cloud and digital certificates
  • Development of Predictive Maintenance procedures for reliable condition and aging monitoring

Overarching objectives:

  • ​​​​​Optimisation of maintenance cycles and Minimisation of downtimes
  • Increasing operational safety through early identification of critical conditions in the overall system
  • Development of reliable quality and safety standards 
  • Digital-supported Risk evaluation and conformity assessment


The core tasks of the sub-project include the planning, procurement, construction, and operation of the hydrogen refuelling station test platform. The supply (1) of the test platform with hydrogen is carried out via an electrolyser, which is fed with green electricity from photovoltaics or wind turbines and, if necessary, supplemented by deliveries of green hydrogen. The actual filling station (2) consists of a compressor, buffer storage, gas cooler, and dispenser for delivering the hydrogen to a vehicle. Cars and light commercial vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells are used as recipients (3). The operating data generated during a refuelling process is collected, processed, and supplemented by external metadata and made available for the generation of models and digital twins.

This sub-project deals with the integration of the process control technology of the experimental platform as well as further sensors on a hardware platform installed on-site. Current concepts of the process industry (e.g., NAMUR Open Architecture) are used for this purpose. The data obtained will be digitally stored together with models (digital twin) so that they can be used to generate further information, update the models, and reparametrize the hardware. The sub-project is the link between the hardware of the experimental platform and the trustworthy provision of data at the interface to the QI-Cloud.

The practical, application-oriented approach of QI-Digital makes it possible to systematically derive requirements for the safety and quality of the hydrogen refuelling station and its ecosystem and transfer them to standardisation bodies. The sub-project aims to prepare the introduction of digital quality assurance methods in regulations, codes, and standards. The focus is on two topics: the introduction of digital quality assurance methods for process-related approaches in the conformity assessment of systems and components (including the Pressure Equipment Directive 2014/68/EU, the Machinery Directive 2002/42/EC, Explosion Protection 2014/34/EU) using the example of a hydrogen refuelling station as an overall system and in regulatory requirements for pressure vessels. The newly standardised digital quality assurance methods can thus serve as a basis for a new digital-based risk evaluation and conformity assessment.

The sub-project aims to demonstrate the use of Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) methods on the test platform. A selection of different SHM methods will provide measured values during the operation of the plant. In parallel, operational and environmental data are collected to ensure fully automated and permanent monitoring of the component condition of selected components, e.g., pressure vessels or pipelines. By jointly evaluating this data, statements can be derived about the integrity of the monitored components. The permanent availability of the measurement and test results in digital form opens up the possibility of making predictions about the further course of damage, also taking into account future loads on the plant. For this purpose, concepts are being developed in the project to be able to reliably predict maintenance times and remaining lifetimes of the plants and plant components with the help of modern Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence approaches.

The overall goal of the sub-project is to optimise and validate the digital hydrogen refuelling station management with sensor technologies. For this purpose, sensor networks are to be intelligently designed with digitally supported evaluation strategies to comprehensively and efficiently monitor the physical and chemical parameters at and in plants and to reliably detect malfunctions. Concrete work steps are the application of sensor technology (gas sensors, manometers, and thermometers) and their digital integration into the refuelling station management system as well as validation in real operation. The measurement results obtained as well as the measurement uncertainties, histories, and procedures are processed in digital form, stored, and continuously included in the AI-based data evaluation. The use of digital calibration certificates (DCC) is being tested and serves the metrological traceability of the measured quantities in a digital QI.

One of the main components of robust quality infrastructure is physico-chemical safety engineering. In particular, the high safety level of plants for the production, transport, storage, and use of hydrogen requires new scientifically accepted measurement methods and evaluation criteria. In this sub-project, scientifically sound data for evaluating the effects of accident scenarios at refuelling stations are generated through the use of extensive sensor technology. The data are used for the validation and optimisation of computer models to digitally map the effects of pulsed free-jet hydrogen flames with a high degree of accuracy. Based on this solid database, a risk assessment can be carried out and appropriate protective measures can be designed to avoid or reduce consequences (e.g., the more precise design of safety distances).

We find "legal" measurements everywhere in everyday life: electricity or water meters in the household, the scales at the butcher's, or the speed camera notice from the police. The legislator has issued directives as well as laws and regulations to comply with defined protection goals (consumer protection, traffic safety, ...). In the case of explosion protection, the protection goal is always safety through the prevention of explosions.

In the pilot project "Reliable hydrogen refuelling stations", the information on the conformity assessment certificates in legal metrology and explosion protection is to be transferred into a digital, machine-readable format as an example. The focus here is on the European Directives on Measuring Instruments (MID, 2014/32/EU), Explosive Atmospheres (ATEX, 2014/34/EU), and Non-Automatic Weighing Instruments (NAWID, 2014/31/EU) and the German counterparts: the Measurement and Verification Act, the Measurement and Verification Ordinance as well as the Production Safety Act and the Industrial Safety Ordinance. Digitalisation is intended to make the processes involved more efficient and secure and to improve data availability and comprehensibility. Ultimately, the entire quality infrastructure is to be strengthened.

The "Living Lab Hydrogen Refuelling Station" is embedded in the Competence Centre H2Safety@BAM for hydrogen of the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung.