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Safety of pressure equipment and components containing hydrogen (SPEECH)


Specific Objectives

In relation to the Pressure Equipment Directive:
- Operation of the EPERC network through the following actions:

- management of the activities, on a day-to-day basis, under the guidance of the Steering Committee;
- providing the secretariat of the Network and linking, for the Steering Committee, with the national members representing the national PE associations or individual institutions;
- operation of the existing TTFs (Technical Task Forces) of EPERC (currently 7 in number;
- liaison with the Commission services and with CEN (Committee for European Standardisation);
- facilitation of technology transfer: Website:, seminars, workshops.

- To support collaborative projects that the Pressure Equipment industry needs to improve safety, reliability and efficiency, with a special focus on pre-normative and co-normative research to improve equipment design, testing and safety (improved inspection, structural integrity assessment) and advanced materials (PED 97/23/EC):

- Generation of valid gasket parameters for the application of the calculation code EN1591-1 (required by the PED) allowing to meet the requirements of the forthcoming European harmonised legislation aimed at controlling Fugitive Emissions;
- Setting-up a Virtual Institute on Design By Analysis of Pressure Equipment for the promotion of advanced design methodologies;
- Development of a European Fitness-For-Service Procedure for assessing the structural integrity of metallic structures transmitting load;
- Consensus achievement for establishment of inspection procedures and for codes and standards development supporting the EU legislator in prevention of man made hazards;
- Development of a Framework Risk-Based Inspection, Risk-based Life Management.

- To support collaborative research projects concerned with the prevention & control of Pressure Equipment damage due to hydrogen effects, using JRC high temperature/pressure hydrogen test and newly developed electrochemistry test facilities:

- Assessment and clarification of field experience with the deterioration mechanism known as "Stress Oriented Hydrogen Induced Cracking", and identify needs for future collaborative research;
- Creation of a Working Group to investigate guidelines for the safe operation of next generation hydro treating reactors in view of compliance with forthcoming EU regulations on low Sulfur content.

- To examine links to nuclear through the Pressure Equipment Directive (components, failure of which do not cause an emission of radioactivity).

In relation to the transport sector to promote the use of alternative fuels:

- To develop the specific action dedicated to the expansion of the project towards alternative fuels for the transport sector by:

- supporting the development of alternative fuel storage tanks for vehicles and in particular Bio fuels, Natural Gas and Hydrogen for fuel cells;
- supporting the development of distribution infrastructures;
- Reference Laboratory: supporting harmonization of testing methods, including the use of new JRC facilities for testing full-scale vehicle tanks (high pressure cycling, permeation) or related equipment, and which are intended for certification;
- Strengthen links with DG TREN to support their policy on alternative fuels for road transportation.


- To implement the Memorandum of Understanding between EPERC, the American and the Japanese Pressure Vessel Research Councils;

- To extend membership of EPERC to Candidate Countries;

- To assemble the Reference Laboratory supporting these networks based on JRC and on the national laboratories of excellence in the different technical fields of action developed by SPEECH.
Planned Deliverables

Specific deliverables to DGs

- Relevant reports to orient DG Enterprise actions in support of the PED and the harmonised standards required for its implementation: on present practice in manufacturing industry, on R&D related work, on demands expressed by industry for new R&D work (possibilities to support innovation-SMEs), and on needs for further legislation and standards:

- Survey on "Industrial Practices related to Design to avoid Fatigue in Pressure equipment";
- New statistical methods to reduce the conservatism of materials design values which will be introduced into a "Knowledge Based System" with appropriate material data to demonstrate the analysis method itself and its applicability to serve as a tool for both designers and standardisation bodies;
- Follow-up of the Design By Analysis (DBA) project by setting up a Virtual Institute on DBA of Pressure Equipment in view of:
1) Rapid transfer and exploitation of research results;
2) Providing support to industry (in particular SME's);
3) Linking geographically scattered complementary research facilities and industrial elements to form a unity;
4) Creating strong market oriented networks between academia, industry, research centers and institutes and 5) Disseminating RTD results to standardisation bodies.

As a result of the research:

- Inspection procedures within the Pressure Equipment Industry:

- Technical Reports on:
1) Survey on NDE inspections techniques used by the European pressure equipment industry and;
2) Status of the actual manufacturing inspection requirements in the pressure equipment industry.
- 3rd European-American Workshop on NDE Reliability to be held in BAM-Berlin on 11th -13th September 2002.

- Validation and comparison of the new European Code EN1591 for bolted flanges and gaskets validation Results and generation of reliable gasket parameter values.

- Knowledge of the mechanisms leading to hydrogen damage and routes for prevention:

- Report on recommendations for:
1) Guidelines for operation (shutdown and repair) of hydrotreating reactors and;
2) reliable standardisation of disbonding test.

- EPERC Technical report on the Workshop "In-Service Inspection and Life Management of Pressure Equipment" held in MPA Stuttgart on October 5, 2001. Co-ordinated by TTF3, 5 and 7.

- Measures to reduce CO2 emissions with vehicle tanks for alternative fuels:

- Official Launch of Technical Task Force 6 "Tanks for alternative fuels".

- Results of the European Industrial Survey to identify key R&D issues to be conducted within TTF6.
- Final set-up and first test on full-scale vehicle tanks to assess permeation and high pressure cycling in Hydrogen.

- Technical Bulletins:

- Nr. 6: "New Advanced Steels for Economic and Safe Use in the Pressure equipment Industry";
- Nr. 7: "Field experience with Stress Oriented Hydrogen Induced Cracking".

- EPERC Newsletter Nr 7 (June 2002).

- Participation to Japanese Pressure Vessel Research Council Symposium
2002, which has been organised as a Joint Workshop dedicated to the collaboration US PVRC/EPERC/Japanese PVRC. April 16-17 2002, Sanjyo Kaikan, University in Tokyo.

- Maintain and expand the support to the enlargement action for enhanced collaboration (4 CCs already participating).

Summary of 2001 deliverables: 31/12/2001
-Extension of membership to 210 signatory organisations representing 14 Member States and 4 candidate countries (Hungary, Slovenia, Poland and Czech Republic).
-EPERC Technical Bulletins:

- Nr.4: "European R&D on Fatigue Strength and Hydrotest for Pressure Equipment" in June 2001;

- Nr.5: "Pressure Component Fatigue Design" in November 2001;

- The EPERC Newsletter Nr. 6 has been issued in May 2001.

- Continuation on dissemination of results of the "Design-by-Analysis Manual" (supported by DG Enterprise): manual, CDs and seminars.

- Workshop on "In-Service Inspection and Life Management of Pressure Equipment" organised in MPA Stuttgart, Germany on October 5, 2001. Co-organised by EPERC Technical Task Forces 3, 5 and 7, this workshop emphasised issues such as design, remaining life assessment, structural analysis, plant management, failure cases, repair welding and related domains.

- Participation to the "European Symposium on Pressure Equipment- ESOPE 2001", Paris, 23-25 October 2001 (Three oral presentations-publications).

- Reference Laboratory:

- Maintain the set-up of the low- (electrochemistry) and high- temperature Hydrogen damage laboratories.

- Testing facilities for alternative fuel tanks including 2 new equipments for full-scale testing, intended for certification: gas permeation and high pressure cycling (Hydrogen and natural gas). These 2 facilities have been purchased; all safety and environmental regulations are under examination before final installation.

Output Indicators and Impact


Output indicators (Specific actions taken).

Impact (long term results)

-To support the Implementation of the Pressure Equipment Directive (PED 97/23/EC)

- Number of co-normative and pre-normative research projects (finishing 1 co-normative and execution of 1 pre-normative)

- Set-up of a Virtual Institute to promote Advanced Design Methodologies

New European harmonised standards which are technically sound, innovative and economic in their use and competitive with other established technical standards in their field;

-To support the development of alternative fuels for the transport sector

- Official launch of one New Technical Task Force (TTF6)

- 2 new facilities in operation (permeation and pressure cycling)

Standardisation of infrastructures for safe energy (Hydrogen) storage for alternative fuel motors.

Technology Transfer

- 1 pan-European Workshop on "HSS"

- Increased number of copies of the Annual Newsletter

- Number of updates and of visits to the EPERC Website:

- Number of participations and articles in International Conferences

Strengthened competitiveness through technological transfer as well as through an easy access to information and its transformation into innovation. Increased awareness, and therefore understanding of EU policies.

Intensifying the dialogue with US and Japan

- Implementation of a MoU

- 1 EPERC/USPVRC/Japanese PVRC joint workshop.

Increased international R&D cooperation goodwill.

To support the Enlargement action

- Double the membership of CCs

- 1 Workshop dedicated to CCs.

- Increased number of students hosted from CCs

Integration of CCs into the European Research Area.
Summary of the project

SPEECH supports the development and implementation of legislative actions by the Commission where safety and environmental protection is at stake. The project operates the well-established "European Pressure Equipment Research Council" (EPERC), which performs Research and Development activities and in particular pre-normative and co-normative research needed to assist the development of harmonised standards useful for EU legislation.
Considerable support is given to the implementation of the EC Directive on Pressure Equipment (PED 97/23/CE) that will become mandatory in member states in May 2002. With its 195 signatory organisations of industries, research institutions, inspection and governmental bodies, EPERC is fostering collaborative research, ensuring technology transfer (particularly towards SMEs) and liasing with the services of the Commission and CEN (Comité Européen de Normalisation) for the design, the manufacture and the safe operation of new pressure equipment to be placed on the market.

In 2002 SPEECH will address two new initiatives relevant to other EU policies and in particular related to the recent communication on alternative fuels for road transportation and on a set of measures to promote the use of bio fuels:

- the promotion of the use of alternative fuels for the transport sector, in particular in the field of safety of energy storage systems. Motivated by air quality concerns, alternative fuels (natural gas, bio fuels, hydrogen for fuel cells) attract considerable interest as a way to reduce urban pollution. SPEECH includes R&D activities and implementation of testing facilities for fuel storage tank technologies, a key issue for the development of vehicles powered by these fuels.
- measures for the implementation of infrastructures required for safe and efficient distribution and transmission of those clean alternative fuels in order to assure their availability.


The implementation of the Pressure Equipment Directive (PED
97/23/CE) as well as its improvement is requiring harmonised standards for pressure equipment design, manufacture and safe operation. In addition, several nuclear manufacturers are following the PED for selected nuclear reactor components (class 2 and 3). The major concern here is the harmonisation of national legislation with regard to the free movement of pressure equipment in order to ensure personal safety and health protection. The European Union also needs a coherent and consolidated policy to deal with industrial risk management. Monitoring the detrimental effect of Hydrogen in large and heavy chemical facilities (gas pipelines, Hydro crackers) is one important issue.
Additionally, and in the short term, the EU is committed under the Kyoto Protocol, to achieving an 8% reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases by 2008-2012 compared to the 1990 level. The transport sector accounts for close to 30% of total CO2 emissions in the EU and a major growth of up to 40% is forecast for 2010. Therefore, research is needed on alternative fuels (Hydrogen, natural gas, bio fuels) offering low or zero carbon emissions. This includes the study of fuel storage technologies providing the automotive and transport industry with reliable information on the design of on-board energy storage, upstream of the fuel cell. EPERC provides this added value by conducting relevant scientific research and development to support the implementation of EU legislations.

Funding Scheme

JRC - Joint Research Centre research


Institute for Energy