Pillars of Progress: Mobility – Safe, affordable, high-tech hydrogen tanks

The commercial success of hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vehicles hinges on achieving ranges and refuelling times comparable to internal combustion engine cars at an affordable price. Research supported by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) has helped address these challenges through the development of high-performance, cost-effective hydrogen storage tanks.

Hydrogen fuel cells are an ideal alternative to fossil-fuel-reliant combustion engines for transport. However, fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have faced a barrier to widespread commercial adoption due to the high cost of many components, not least hydrogen storage tanks.

New manufacturing techniques and more efficient tank designs using novel, more affordable materials and fewer parts are making on-board hydrogen tanks commercially viable, while enhancing safety, weight and capacity.

The FCH JU-supported COPERNIC project made significant advances in improving the design and manufacturing of hydrogen tanks. By developing a novel carbon-fibre composite, optimising the structure of high-pressure tanks and implementing automated, scalable manufacturing processes, the project projected to lower the cost of a hydrogen tank by40% at production volume of 1.000 tanks per year. . It also made tanks simpler and safer, incorporating a novel on-tank valve and real-time monitoring via optical fibres and sensors.

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