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Researchers aim to engineer environmentally-friendly hydrogen tanks

The new tanks for fuel cell vehicles are storage tanks made from light metal hydrides. The shape of the tanks can be flexibly adapted and the material is recyclable.

11 Oct. 2018
(Photo: Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung GmbH ) / C. Schmid)

In fuel cell vehicles, the hydrogen is stored in relatively large-volume pressurized gas tanks that are difficult to accommodate and that require a high pressure of up to 900 bar during charging. It is therefore imperative that they are made from exceptionally high-quality material – material which, until now, has not been recyclable.

In the H2HybridTank project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), scientists and engineers from research institute Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG), Volkswagen AG , and plant apparatus developer Panco are collaborating with tank experts Stühff to conduct research into a new hydrogen tank made from light metal hydrides. According to the project coordinator Dr. Klaus Taube from the HZG, these hybrid tanks store the hydrogen in lower volumes at significantly lower pressure and can be quickly charged. In addition, the lower pressure means that recyclable tank shells could be used, the amount of energy required for the compression reduced, the pre-cooling phase eliminated, and the tank better integrated in the vehicle shape. Further steps for the post-project phase are to be coordinated with AUDI AG , which is responsible for fuel cells within the VW Group.