Composite solutions for future hydrogen storage tanks (COMFHY)

Towards a Carbon-Neutral Future: The UN's Ambitious Goal for Net Zero Emissions by 2050

The United Nations aim to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 as part of their Sustainable Development Goals. As the energy sector is responsible for around 75% of the GHG emissions, there is a surging need for transition to renewable energy sources. Besides, direct GHG emissions from the transport sector accounted for 23% of the global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 according to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of 2022. Electromobility powered by low-carbon electricity is believed to have the potential to rapidly reduce the transport GHG emissions. For light and medium-duty vehicles, lithium-ion batteries are considered as one of the most promising techniques in the electrification of cars. However, batteries are less suitable for long-haul and more heavy-duty transport due to the higher power requirements of these applications. In these systems, hydrogen fuel cells are seen as an emerging option to achieve emission reduction if it is produced using low-carbon sources. Hydrogen holds the potential to store energy from renewable energy sources and use it at a distance in time and/or space from the primary production site. Moreover, hydrogen fueling is much faster than recharging batteries.

Collaborating for a Sustainable Future

Belgium has been taking a leading position in the transition towards a hydrogen economy thanks to many companies and research institutes active in hydrogen technologies. In addition, Belgium currently has the second largest hydrogen pipeline network in the world and a strategic position in Western Europe as an import and transit hub for renewable H2 molecules. The federal government wishes to further strengthen this leading position, and counts on many players active in hydrogen solutions, including universities, to achieve this target.

Composites Cluster network event

The Key to Hydrogen Mobility

In the context of these global and local evolutions, this project proposal focuses on an important link in the future hydrogen economy, being the storage of compressed hydrogen in pressurized composite tanks or liquid hydrogen in insulated composite tanks, both in the vehicle itself , in refueling stations or in the trailers for the distribution. Indeed, the success of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles depends both on the development of safe storage options in the vehicle, as well as on a supporting refueling and distribution infrastructure. Since the volumetric energy density of hydrogen at atmospheric pressure is significantly lower than most of the other fuels and energy carriers, storage is done at very high pressures up to 700 bar or as liquefied hydrogen at cryogenic temperatures of -252.87 °C.

This research project wants to focus on the following objectives:

  • The development of better finite element models for predicting the damage development in composite tanks under fatigue and impact loading,
  • Partially replacing the full-scale tank tests by reduced-scale tests on coupons and subcomponents, that are representative for the complex stress state in the real tanks
  • Improving the liner quality by novel material selection and manufacturing techniques
  • Instrumentation of the tank to validate the model predictions
  • New tank designs for compressed hydrogen, and its impact on carbon footprint, recyclability and productivity.

Please inform SIM of the project idea before starting to work out any detailed proposal. This will enable the SIM team to guide you through the total procedure which will be followed up by SIM in more detail than previously.

For any additional questions, don't hesitate to contact us at projectbeheer@sim-flanders.be.