INTERVIEW THP12: Rich Craig / CGA – The Safe Hydrogen Project Is Planting The Flag For Hydrogen Safety. What you NEED To Know.

February 20, 2023 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2023 • Episode: SIS12

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Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!

Special Interview Series – Rich Craig / CGA – I had the great privilege to interview Rich Craig from the Compressed Gas Association to talk about the Safe Hydrogen Project that they just launched. When I researched this initiative, I knew I had to get Rich on the show. His wealth of experience and the importance of the topic is a critical component of growth of the hydrogen economy.

If you would like to learn more about the safe hydrogen project, please visit their website at to get all the details. There’s a treasure trove of information there, along with more coming soon. Background: Rich Craig is responsible for U.S. and Canadian technical activities and interaction with associated global industry and other groups, including managing U.S. technical participation at ISO TC and SC meetings. He joined CGA as Technical Director in February, 2011. Rich has over 44 years of experience in compressed gas facility operations, engineering, and safety. While with Praxair, Rich worked in cylinder filling plants, small and large ASU plants, regional operations, engineering, and corporate safety. Positions held included plant engineer, plant manager, operations manager, engineering manager, and director of process safety. Operations accountabilities included management of single and multiple unit facilities, product transportation, and regional operations. Engineering accountabilities included electrical, mechanical, and auxiliary systems, commissioning and start up, as well as technical support. Safety accountabilities included global process safety for cylinder and bulk plant operations. He received a BSEE in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Indiana University. This is an important topic, and one that I hope everyone in the hydrogen industry pays attention to. Thanks for listening and as always, if you have feedback on this interview, please feel free to email me at

Paul Rodden



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Paul Rodden 0:00
The Compressed Gas Association. Why did I think it was important to have them on the hydrogen podcast? Well, we’re about to do a deep dive with Rich Craig to find out why. Let’s cue up the theme song and jump right into the interview.

So the big questions in the energy industry today are, how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where is capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters who recognize the importance of hydrogen? I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital. Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen. And this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden, and welcome to the hydrogen podcast.

Hi, this is Paul and I wanted to welcome you back to the hydrogen Podcast. Today I have the privilege of talking to Rich Craig, the Vice President and technical and Regulatory Affairs for the compressed gas Association. He’s responsible for US and Canadian technical activities and interaction with associated global industry and other groups, including managing us technical participation at ISO TC and SC meetings. Rich has over 44 years of experience in compressed gas facility operations, engineering and safety. Sir, thank you for taking the time to meet with us. It’s great to have you on the show.

Rich Craig 1:26
Paul, thank you for for having me here. Pleased to join you and have this opportunity to discuss CGA hydrogen and our safe hydrogen project.

Paul Rodden 1:37
So can you tell us a little bit about the compressed gas Association? And I’d also like to hear your thoughts on how the hydrogen industry has changed over time.

Rich Craig 1:47
Sure. Compressed gas industry the CGA has been around for 110 years this year. We were founded in 1913 in New York by the compressed gas companies that were that were existing back then there were there were a lot more of them back then. Then Then there are today CGA is a standards developing organization and a trade association for the industry. We have over 140 members in the US and Canada. Some of the names might be familiar to you and your audience Air Liquide, Air Products, Linde, Matheson, Messer, Chart, Plug Power are just some of our members, they these members produce and move a large portion of the hydrogen used not only in North America, but around the world. And we we know hydrogen CGA published its first hydrogen standard G five, nearly 70 years ago, I haven’t been around as long as CGA but but as you noted, I’ve been in the industry for for a number of years, first with Linde Praxair, where, where I held a number of different Operations Engineering and corporate roles. And then as as you noted, for the last 12 years, I’ve been with CGA. Over that time, I’ve seen hydrogen grow from primarily an industrial product used in applications such as chemical feedstocks and rocket propellants, to an essential product for building computer chips. And it’s evolved today to his position as a widely anticipated means to help decarbonize the economy.

Paul Rodden 3:33
It’s always funny to hear just how long the CGA has been around. And the fact that you have hydrogen standards for the last 70 years kind of speaks volumes to just how integrated you have been, and how prepped the organization is moving forward. And what I believe is going to kind of finally be that time for hydrogen to shine, as you mentioned that decarbonisation fuel of the future. But with that being said, your latest initiative, the safe hydrogen project launched a couple of weeks ago, we covered it here on the show. What is this initiative? Why is it important?

Rich Craig 4:10
Well, Paul, the safe hydrogen project is is essentially a resource, a toolbox, if you will, where people can go for information about hydrogen, its use its characteristics, standards and such. It has and we’re creating more now, information that will be useful to people who are new to hydrogen, and there’s a lot of those in recent years. Information for practitioners that are designing and operating things like hydrogen refueling stations, and to the more general population that want to better understand hydrogen. We know hydrogen can be a volatile element. But we also know that when it’s managed correctly, it’s no more dangerous than other fuels like gas gasoline and diesel and natural gas, the safe handling and other safety procedures are needed to be built into every step of bringing it to market. And that’s where our safe hydrogen project comes in the standards map the hydrogen standards map that’s available with the safe hydrogen project identifies the more than 30 operations and design focus standards we already have and list the standards we’re developing. It also has videos one pagers, infographics and more about hydrogen. So we intended to be maybe not the one stop place to go for hydrogen information, but a very useful tool for people who want to learn about hydrogen.

Paul Rodden 5:45
So glad that you came out with it. That’s one of the things that when I saw it, when I was talking to your communications person about this, I get approached every now and then about standards safety standards, from people who have historically been in oilfield services OFS wanting to know is there any kind of regulatory body managing this sort of thing. So the fact that you now have this standard out there should come as a relief to a lot of people looking to move into that hydrogen space. I just wanted to congratulate you for that.

Rich Craig 6:19
Well, thank you.

Paul Rodden 6:20
So this clearly this initiative is making a big push for safety and harmonized standards. Can you talk to me a little bit about why these standards are important?

Rich Craig 6:31
Sure. We did some research in 2021, that found about 92% of the consumers that that we had, we had a firm contact, wanted to know that hydrogen was safe before they’d consider using it or supporting it. Now, public perception is very important in promoting hydrogen. If the public does not feel that that hydrogen is safe, it’s going to it’s going to be a problem. And public awareness is growing. I mean, it’s even making it into Movie subplots. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Netflix movie Glass Onion, but that that has a very significant subplot on hydrogen and hydrogen safety. So having hydrogen standards, that that people can know that hydrogen is safe is important. We want people to understand that hydrogen isn’t synonymous with Hindenburg. Hydrogen can be used safely, and it has been used safely for for many, many decades. And besides addressing safety concerns, standards also facilitate the build out of the hydrogen infrastructure. For example, when connectors are the same, where you use the same connector is used from different companies to connecting to different tanks, it means building out the hydrogen refueling infrastructure, for example, because there isn’t a concern that things don’t fit together. And when I think about things not fitting together, I think about cell phones and cell phone chargers. Now how many years have we lived with, with different connectors for different types of cell phones?

Paul Rodden 8:15

Rich Craig 8:16
Making it easy to fit things together, will facilitate the build out of the hydrogen infrastructure, making sure they operate in the same manner. And making sure that that people know that there are there are standards and regulations and codes and requirements in place that will make the use of hydrogen safe.

Paul Rodden 8:37
So and I mentioned earlier a little bit that the listeners have come in and ask me some targeted questions about safety standards. Are there any specific standards you have off the top of your head that might be of interest to the audience?

Rich Craig 8:51
Yeah, one of the one of the ones I’ll mention or one of the ones I’ll mention are for safety fencing hydrogen, under things like canopies. If you’re refilling hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, just like you’re if you’re refilling a car with gasoline or diesel, you don’t want to stand out in the rain while doing so. So hydrogen refueling stations have canopy or will have canopy as they get built out. Hydrogen is of very light gas, so it rises very quickly when it’s released. And if those canopies aren’t designed correctly, they can trap that hydrogen, leading to unfortunate consequences. Let me put it that way. Yeah, that’s one part. Yeah. Another is that hydrogen, as it’s being vented needs to be done in a safe manner. Now venting is going to be part of a normal refueling process, or a normal process as hydrogen is delivered to a refueling station that needs to be done safely through properly designed and installed vent systems and CGA has publications that address both those topics. What do you need to consider when you build a hydrogen refueling station with a canopy, so that you can keep people dry while they’re refueling. But you don’t create a hazard while they’re refueling and that operational vents are in place so that hydrogen can be vented safely. And it can be vented in a manner that doesn’t cause a great bit of noise. Again, going back to some of the history of hydrogen, it’s been a it’s an industrial commodities been an industrial product for many years. And venting of hydrogen from the storage facilities of the facilities in an industrial location hasn’t been a problem, the noise from that venting is, is more likely less than the noise of the other operations. But as these hydrogen refueling stations, for example, get built more in neighborhoods and more in commercial areas, noise from venting is important, it’s going to be we don’t want to that to be a detriment to people citing high hydrogen refueling stations where they need to be. So considering noise is going to be an important factor on hydrogen vent systems. And that’s something we’re working on.

Paul Rodden 11:25
So there’s just things like that I would never take into consideration that’s why your organization is what it is.

Rich Craig 11:31

Paul Rodden 11:32
Think about so many different facets of safety standards that I think a lot of us wouldn’t even consider, but it’s a good thing you are, it seems like everyone now is announcing deals to build out facilities recently. What safety and regulatory advice do you have for these companies that are new to hydrogen?

Rich Craig 11:52
I think the simplest message that I would give is to make sure you know and follow the requirements, the code standards, regulations and best practices for the type of facility you’re you’re building. Some of the people at CGA are tired of me saying this. But standards are history lessons, they’re often written because something bad happened. And requirements are put in place to keep that from happening again. And people as they’re building facilities, as they’re working with hydrogen need to know and understand these requirements, code standards, best practices, so that they do things, right. They don’t do things in a way that could compromise safety, get people hurt, that equipment damage. So knowing and following the regulations and best practices is the most important message I have to people entering the hydrogen space.

Paul Rodden 12:52
That’s great. And you know, there were a couple of incidents recently with transportation of hydrogen where some trucks had some issues. So even even more timely, that the standards are coming out, that can be put into practice, as transportation is ramping up more and more. And I think fast, right, what a lot of analysts have expected,

Rich Craig 13:12
Right. And again, incidents happen, unfortunately. And they’re always reviewed. And that’s where that’s where the standards become history lessons, something that there are learnings from those types of incidents, and they get incorporated into the standards so that they don’t happen again, a concern, if you will, is that if people don’t understand why you have certain requirements, they may look at a certain approach and say, Well, if I do it a little differently, I can do it faster, I can do it better, I can do it cheaper. But if you do that you run the risk of compromising some mitigation that’s been put in place to prevent incidents. So, again, it’s important to understand the requirements, the best practices and such.

Paul Rodden 14:07
I love that standards are a history lesson. I’m going to use that. What advice are you giving your members at the CGA in regards to adding hydrogen as an additional revenue stream to their gas operations? Do you feel like there is a positive sentiment from these companies to add hydrogen to their energy portfolio? Or are they taking kind of a more wait and see approach

Rich Craig 14:30
At CGA, we don’t we don’t provide business advice to our members. But but the use of hydrogen is really poised to grow rapidly as the as the economy decarbonize is and as you know, there are a lot of people getting into into hydrogen. You know, my comments would be the company’s needs take a clear eyed view of how they’ll be involved. Again, making sure they understand how hydrogen is used, what the requirements are, that that whatever business you’re getting into in imposes, but hydrogen is going to grow. That’s what everbody says that’s what we’re seeing are in our safe hydrogen project can help do that help people understand hydrogen. They take the clear eyed views of what they need to do to be involved. And being a CGA member can give give people voices and how those hydrogen requirements evolve.

Paul Rodden 15:26
Based on your experience in the industry, what would be the most important piece of regulatory advice you think the hydrogen industry should focus on right now,

Rich Craig 15:36
people are surprised when I say this, but regulations can help the hydrogen space grow quickly and safely, although the regulations that get put in place need to be appropriate and effective for for what they what they want to accomplish, not knee jerk reactions to an incident. So knowing and following codes and standards and regulations, as such, reduces the probability of an incident that could lead to regulations that are burdensome, and oftentimes really don’t address the causes. So regulations are not necessarily a detriment, they can very much be a promoter, but they need to be effective and appropriate for for the hazards that are being addressed.

Paul Rodden 16:24
And so we kind of talked about standards and with standards being the backbone, where do you see this industry going, you know, what your your kind of your your 10 year outlook for hydrogen? How do you envision that building out?

Rich Craig 16:39
Well, besides the ongoing need for hydrogen as an industrial product, again, rocket fuels and and very, very important element in making computer chips, its uses the mobility fuel is only going to grow. I mean, some projections I’ve seen is demand being increased by factors of five to six to seven to eight. So you know, a huge growth in that market, it is just going to go now it’s so it’s already being widely used as a fuel. If you look at a lot of warehouses around the country, they’re all being all the material, all the the merchandise being moved in those is being moved on forklifts that are powered by hydrogen. So it is already here in a in a pretty, pretty substantial way. And it’s it’s going to grow a lot of talk about hydrogen use for heavy duty long haul trucks, a lot of talk about the capability of helping decarbonize industries like steel and cement manufacturers. And that’s what we know today. I mean, I’m sure there’s going to be other uses for hydrogen that come about that evolve, as people start using it and accepting it more widely. But it all begins with people feeling that they can use it safely.

Paul Rodden 17:00
I think one of the most fascinating things that I like about the safe hydrogen project is that the industry feels a bit like the wild west right now. And this project is planning that flag for safety and regulations in the hydrogen industry. I think it’s a much needed and important component to successfully advancing the hydrogen economy has been an incredible interview. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for putting out the the safety standards. For hydrogen. I think it’s critical. We’re going to try to push it as much on the podcast as we can. Because I think it’s one of those things that will increase everyone’s comfort level with hydrogen, but also at the same time, advance the build out in a in a safe way. I really appreciate your time taking the time to meet with me today.

Rich Craig 18:52
Well, Thank you, Paul, for this opportunity to talk about hydrogen, CGA and our safe hydrogen project. You take care.

Paul Rodden 19:01
You too. Alright, everyone. If you would like to learn more about the safe hydrogen project, please visit their website at to get all the details. There’s a treasure trove of information there, along with more coming soon. Thanks, everyone. Take care. Stay safe. I’ll talk to you later. Hey, this is Paul. I hope you liked this podcast. If you did and want to hear more. I’d appreciate it if you would either subscribe to this channel on YouTube, or connect with your favorite platform through my website at Thanks for listening. I very much appreciate it. Have a great day.