Cover Story, just months ago 10,000 psi seemed to be a dream...
High pressure hydrogen storage for fuel cell vehicles becomes closer to a reality
The ultimate goal for many researchers and design engineers of fuel cell vehicles is to have hydrogen as a direct source of power. Currently, most prototype models have reformers that require gasoline or methanol which need to be reformed into hydrogen. Reformers add costs in both materials and the manufacturing process; they also add a myriad of parts which require maintenance, replacement and repair, but auto companies have used reformers because the direct storage of hydrogen on-board has not been considered practical.
QUANTUM Technologies WorldWide, Inc. has the potential to change this scenario. In June of 2001, the Company announced it had demonstrated an all-composite hydrogen storage tank that stores hydrogen at 10,000 psi (700 bar). At 10,000 psi, 80% more hydrogen fuel can be stored in a given space than at 5,000 psi - dramatically increasing the range of fuel cell mobile applications and getting fuel cell vehicles to the marketplace. The 10,000 psi hydrogen storage capability of QUANTUM’s tank was confirmed through a hydrostatic burst test that achieved 23,500 psi burst pressure - a 2.35 factor of safety required by the European Integrated Hydrogen Project’s (EIHP) specifications. To supplement the safety features, the tank has a patented in-tank regulator which provides additional safety by containing the high pressure in the tank and allowing a maximum delivery pressure of only 150 psi (10 bar).
Last July, QUANTUM announced that it had achieved a major milestone by being the first company to fill a hydrogen storage cylinder with compressed hydrogen at 5,000 psi at the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CAFCP). This fall QUANTUM and ATK Thiokol successfully completed the first 5,000 psi hydrogen cycling test. The tank tested was the first all-composite polymer-lined storage tank to successfully pass NGV2 cycling tests for hydrogen. These results validate the ability of these tanks to be routinely fast-filled with no deterioration, a critical safety feature for the market acceptance of on-board hydrogen storage for fuel cell vehicles.
In October, QUANTUM initiated regulatory approval for its 10,000 psi cylinder. By this time, the company had exceeded its previous record and was the first to achieve a hydrostatic burst test in excess of 24,000 psi on a 10,000 psi (700 Bar) ultra-lightweight, all composite, hydrogen storage tank. This achievement exceeds the 2.35 safety factor requirement of 23,500 psi set by the EIHP. Hydrostatic bust testing records the maximum pressure the storage cylinder can sustain. The procedure entails filing the cylinder with water until the point of rupture.
Interest in the technology
With Quantum’s advances in hydrogen storage, Astris Energy, Inc. sees a three-fold increase in its fuel cell-driven golf cars range. This translates into a golf car traveling from three days to eight days without refueling.
This past summer, General Motors (GM) and QUANTUM formed a global strategic alliance and equity partnership to collaborate on improving the range of GM’s vehicles through the development of hydrogen storage, hydrogen handling and electronic control technologies for fuel cell applications. Other partners on GM’s team focusing on future fuel cell product development programs include General Hydrogen, Giner Electromechanical Systems and Hydrogenics. Recently, Suzuki Motor Corporation has joined the group.
GM’s Global Propulsion Center has awarded QUANTUM multiple contracts to perform optimization studies for efficiently packaging advanced fuel storage systems with the chassis of vehicles.
The 5,000 psi hydrogen storage cylinder (the TriShieldTM tank) is part of QUANTUM’s fuel storage and delivery system developed for Hyundi’s Santa Fe fuel cell SUV, which will undergo demonstration testing and driving for the CAFCP. Late in October, this SUV entered the Michelin Challenge Bibendum, an annual showcase for alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. With QUANTUM’s 5000 psi fuel tank, the vehicle was able to go more than 100 miles before refueling.