Outdoor hydrogen fueling stations started to appear in select U.S. markets in the 1990s to provide fuel for fleets of hydrogen-powered cars and buses involved in demonstration projects. Over the last several years, fueling expanded indoors to support similar demonstration projects as large-scale warehouse operations considered replacing battery-powered industrial trucks with hydrogen-powered ones. Hydrogen can be as safe as, or safer than, the traditional lead-acid batteries used in today's electric-powered industrial trucks. For example, some of the hazards of working with lead-acid batteries are:
- Hydrogen is released during battery charging.
- Lead-acid batteries in fire conditions are not benign.
- Minor incidents with acid burns and caustic exposure are common.
- Handling of heavy batteries is required.
Currently there are close to 2,000 hydrogen fuel cell industrial trucks operating in the U.S., with a total of about 500,000 refuelings per year, some indoors and some outdoors.
Best practices for setting up an indoor refueling station for hydrogen-powered industrial trucks can be categorized as follows: