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Hydrogen tanks for cars - hydrogen storage

09 March 2021

The topic of hydrogen as a raw material to power the vehicles of the future keeps coming back, and has recently gained even more interest. Let's take a look at the possibilities offered by shock absorbers for hydrogen tanks.

In this age of ecology and socially responsible business, green energy for powering cars is one of the priorities of the automotive market. Find out how Knauf solutions support the hydrogen revolution.

Developing suitable hydrogen storage tanks is a priority

Like electric cars, hydrogen powered vehicles currently suffer from range limitations. Innovative hydrogen storage tanks could be the technology that makes vehicles powered by this environmentally friendly fuel able to travel long distances. The potential of this source for powering cars is unlimited – it is the raw material with the highest energy value per mass of all known fuels.

However, storing and refueling hydrogen is very problematic, which represents a significant obstacle to the development of this sector. The currently available hydrogen storage tanks store the material in gaseous or liquid form. Both methods are not entirely optimal. In the gaseous form, it is necessary to use extremely resistant containers that can withstand enormous pressure. Liquid hydrogen, on the other hand, is only suitable for storage tanks cooled to just above absolute zero. Hydrogen is perceived as dangerous, so storing it requires very precise and robust solutions. Hydrogen storage tanks must be adapted to the demanding conditions associated with its storage. This is the biggest barrier that has prevented the automotive market from fully exploiting the potential of hydrogen in vehicle propulsion applications to date.

However, it is worth overcoming these technological barriers – this will ensure access to engines using a widely available, environmentally friendly and incredibly efficient raw material. One of the priorities for the automotive industry should be to evenly develop solutions that support EVs and FCVs. At some stage of development, the strain on the electrical infrastructure that will result from the availability of a huge number of electric-powered vehicles may overwhelm the capacity of the current energy supply. This is a situation where hydrogen cars could prove to be a highly attractive alternative.

Hydrogen storage tanks – they must meet the expectations of today's consumers

The problem of hydrogen as a fuel is primarily the lack of access to suitable solutions for the cheap supply of this raw material. This has to do with the lack of existing infrastructure, as well as the very limited range of vehicles that use hydrogen for propulsion.
A range of 500 kilometres is considered to be the threshold for widespread use of hydrogen storage in the automotive sector. Therefore, it is necessary to develop more capacious tanks that can store hydrogen with a certain energy density.

Energy density of fuels – hydrogen has huge potential

Hydrogen is an element which, in terms of energy content in MJ/kg, is definitely unrivalled – whether it is compressed at 350 or 700 bar or as a liquid. We are talking here about an energy density of 120 MJ/kg. By comparison, the fossil fuels used in cars, such as diesel or petrol, have values of around 50 MJ/kg.

The problem, however, is energy density measured in relation to volume. Here, petrol offers 33 MJ/l and diesel 37 MJ/l. In this case, all forms of hydrogen considered perform below 10 MJ/l. Mobile gas tanks must therefore offer plenty of storage space. Developing effective solutions for this is one of the main challenges for the upcoming years of development of the FCV sector. One of the most important elements of such tanks will be a suitable shock absorber – a protection for the dome that will maximize the safety and efficiency of hydrogen storage.

Shock absorbing properties for hydrogen vehicle tanks – Knauf’s offer

The EPP, or expanded polypropylene, solutions being developed within Knauf Automotive favour the use of this material in hydrogen batteries. These are lightweight parts with great potential for energy dissipation. The absorber prevents the energy created by hydrogen transport from being converted into another form, such as heat. The EPP absorber offers a very wide operating temperature range. For this reason, it can be used in tandem with hydrogen storage tanks, which store this raw material in liquid form.
Knauf Automotive solutions have also been adapted to the modern supply chain. EPP shock absorbers are very easy to install – they can be adapted to hydrogen tanks of different specifications. Such structures are additionally resistant to repeated impacts, which is particularly important for such potentially hazardous fuels. 

One of the main objectives of projects such as EPP shock absorbers for hydrogen tanks was to create a solution that would help customers achieve the objectives for the type-approval of motor vehicles and their components with respect to the safe operation of hydrogen powered propulsion systems. Knauf products help vehicles to comply with the standards imposed by the R134 regulation. Knauf Automotive solutions provide access to state-of-the-art designs that encourage the development of green technologies in the automotive sector.

Please contact our automotive experts for more information about solutions for hydrogen powered cars!

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