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January 4, 2000

NES Assists Fuel Cell Industry Address Technology Acceptance

The National Evaluation Service, Inc. (NES) announces implementation of a new project that will assist the fuel cell industry in accelerating the approval of Fuel Cell installations by U.S. building regulatory agencies and also address international standards issues that can impact global acceptance of the technology.

During the project, which is being undertaken on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, NES will work with fuel cell developers and manufacturers in the development of an evaluation protocol that can be used as a basis for the evaluation and assessment of stationary fuel cell power plants intended for building applications. The protocol will also serve to alert fuel cell power plant manufacturers and distributors of the testing and documentation needed to facilitate building regulatory acceptance of the technology. Using the evaluation protocol as a basis, a National Evaluation Report (NER) for a particular power plant can then be developed. An NER will detail the conditions upon which a particular fuel cell power plant satisfies the requirements of the three U.S. model building codes and the model codes of the International Code Council (ICC). In doing so an NER will assist building regulatory officials who enforce those codes assess fuel cell installations proposed in their jurisdictions and will facilitate approval of specific installations in a more timely manner.

"Building construction regulations tend to lag technology development. In addition they can be prescriptive in nature. Coupled with a lack of information on and experience with new technology, this makes it difficult for building regulatory officials to readily review and approve any new technology. It also increases the level of effort technology proponents must undertake to secure needed approvals. Eventually standards and model code criteria are developed, adopted, and implemented by state and local building regulatory officials and can foster timely technology review and approval. Until those efforts are completed and the technology becomes more routine for building regulators, the activities being undertaken by NES will help 'bridge the gap' and should assist everyone involved in the building industry more readily accept the safe installation of fuel cells in buildings", said David Conover, CEO of the National Evaluation Service.

Under the evaluation protocol effort NES will perform the following activities:

Develop a 'white paper' rough draft of the evaluation protocol, widely publicize the initiation of the project using the 'white paper', and solicit input from, and participation by, interested parties.

Develop a list of issues that will need to be addressed and for which an evaluation would be desired in order to assess the safety and performance of a fuel cell power plant.

Draft an evaluation protocol and work with other interested and affected parties to finalize the evaluation protocol.

Publish the protocol and make it available to interested parties.

A draft of the evaluation protocol is expected to be available by May 2000 and the final document published by the end of July 2000.

In addition to the evaluation protocol effort, NES will be assisting with the planning and execution of the U.S. DOE Fuel Cell Summit IV in 2000. Past summits, held annually in the Spring, have focused the industry and other interested parties on the status of fuel cell technology development and deployment. More importantly, the summits have provided a singular and unique venue for the industry to identify building regulatory issues such as development and adoption of standards and codes and efforts to educate the building and code communities. In addition they have provided an opportunity for those in the hydrogen industry, distributed power advocates, and fuel cell vehicle developers and proponents to recognize and address building regulatory issues that will impact their interests.

The NES will also be participating in the initial meeting of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) committee on fuel cells (IEC TC 105). This committee, formerly an IEC task force, will be focusing their efforts on reviewing the status of fuel cell technology and determining what standards development initiatives for fuel cells might be warranted within the IEC. Dave Conover of the NES serves as the Deputy Technical Advisor on IEC TC 105 to the U.S. National Committee of the IEC and will be actively supporting the Technical Advisor, Kelvin Hecht, in representing the interests of the U.S. fuel cell industry at the meeting.

The National Evaluation Service is a non-profit organization that conducts a voluntary and advisory program of evaluation for both traditional and innovative building materials, products and systems to facilitate their acceptance and safe installation. NES develops technical reports containing descriptions of a building construction material or product, together with a list of conditions necessary for compliance with each of the model codes, as promulgated by Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI) as well as the International Codes of the ICC. The NES also operates a Building Innovation Center that is focused on efforts to enhance the evaluation and acceptance of innovative building technologies and address issues such as durability, maintenance and technology performance beyond the minimum requirements in building codes and standards.

Content updated on 7/10/2003

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