Functional safety and Industrial Security for applications in the hydrogen industry

Hydrogen (H2) is considered the energy source of the future. It will play a key role in the transition to a sustainable power supply. Pilz is contributing to this transition by optimising the generation of green hydrogen from renewable energy sources such as wind power or photovoltaics as well as the safe distribution to users. Our focus on functional safety and automation ensures a green and safe future.

Hydrogen (H2)

H2 – Safe and Secure

With the increasing digital networking of plants and systems in hydrogen production, storage and hydrogen applications in industry, the topic of Industrial Security must absolutely be taken into consideration in order to protect sensitive plant data. Here too, Pilz offers tried and tested solutions for dealing with threats.

In the flyer you will find a lot more information about the functional safety of hydrogen - from hydrogen production to application.

Pilz supports you during your challenges

Hydrogen system graphics by Pilz

Hydrogen is a highly flammable gas. For safe production, handling and use, you need safety systems from Pilz to reliably prevent and manage hazardous situations when dealing with hydrogen.

Our solutions for you:

  • Safe small controller PNOZmulti 2 – controls and monitors the required safety functions 
  • Automation system PSS 4000 – for large plants and according to the number of inputs and outputs required (PNOZmulti 2 and PSS 4000 are certified up to SIL 3 in accordance with EN IEC 61511; satisfy the requirement according to EN IEC 61508)
  • I.A.M. (Identification and Access Management): From user authentication to operating mode selection or data and network security to access management. 
  • SecurityBridge industrial firewall: Protecting the control network from manipulation through unauthorised access. The online connection is established via a VPN connection with role-based user management (developed in accordance with IEC 62443)

Risks when handling hydrogen – safe prevention and management


Due to its small molecular size, low molecular weight, high diffusibility and low viscosity, hydrogen is hard to contain and can easily escape. Hydrogen leaks pose a serious risk of fire or even explosion. Hydrogen fires are invisible and it should always be assumed that a flame is present.

Fire / ignition

Hydrogen is highly flammable and naturally explosive. It ignites and burns much easier than other fuels, and as one of the lightest elements on earth, it spreads upwards very quickly. Hydrogen flames are invisible, which makes it difficult to localise the fire source. Even technical precautions such as thermal sensors reach their limits here.

Injury through contact

Because hydrogen is normally stored and transported in a compressed state in pressurised hydrogen tanks, it is extremely cold. If hydrogen escapes in this state and makes contact with skin or if the icy vapour of the liquid hydrogen is inhaled, this can lead to burns, frostbite, supercooling and lung damage.

Functional safety in the electrolysis process

Functional safety in the electrolysis process with Pilz safety systems

During alkaline or PEM electrolysis, a number of safety requirements must be observed: 

  • The detection of gases and flames is mandatory in order to initiate suitable safety measures such as ventilation or preventing access to this area 
  • The lack of a constant current source can pose an additional safety problem (cross-over phenomenon). For this reason, a fault in the electrical part – voltage or current – can lead to a possible explosion risk

Hydrogen refuelling stations – Safe and Secure

A hydrogen refuelling station (HRS) comprises a compression area in which the gas can be compressed up to 1 000 bar, a cooling system, high-pressure storage tanks and the fuel pump.

Typical safety functions include: 

  • Hydrogen leak, flame and smoke detection
  • Temperature and pressure monitoring

Functional safety in the steam reforming process

steam reforming process

Steam reforming is currently the most important method for the generation of hydrogen from carbon-based energy carriers and water. Natural gas is the most important raw material today, but methanol, biogas or biomass can also be used as the starting material. This process requires high temperatures that are reached through the use of gas burners

The safe small controller PNOZmulti 2 Burner and the automation system PSS 4000 can not only take over the control of the burner management system, they also guarantee the safety of the process. Temperature and pressure are safely controlled and monitored, for example.

Burning of hydrogen – H2-ready

When using 100 % hydrogen or mixtures of gaseous hydrocarbon fuels, such as natural gas with hydrogen as a fuel in gas burners, the existing standards for burners with gaseous fuels apply.

These standards apply, for example :

  • EN 298
  • IEC/UL 60730-2-5 for burner control
  • EN 676 for gas burners 
  • ISO 13577 for industrial furnaces (area of gaseous fuels) 

These standards differentiate between gaseous, liquid and solid fuels, but there is no differentiation based on specific gases within the group of gaseous fuels. For this reason, the existing standards also apply to hydrogen.

The PNOZmulti 2 Burner solution is 100 % ready for use for burning hydrogen or mixtures of gaseous hydrocarbon fuels.

Burning of hydrogen

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