Worthington Industries has been manufacturing hydrogen high-pressure cylinders for decades out of the US and Austrian facilities. Can you tell us about Worthington’s history in hydrogen and the journey the company has been on to where it is today?
Gabi Zeilerbauer (GZ): Yes, that’s correct. Long before the automotive industry began to view hydrogen as the clean fuel of the future, we were in the hydrogen business. Primarily we partnered with industrial gas customers, designing and manufacturing gas containment solutions for the use of hydrogen in industrial processes. Depending on the operation’s scale we have provided this segment with high-pressure steel cylinders for stand-alone use, for bundles, and for multi-element gas containers (MEGCs). The segment remains interesting and important for us.
While we were serving our industrial gas customers with hydrogen containment solutions, we were building our portfolio for the alternative fuels market. Hydrogen did not yet have the traction as scalable technology in the mobility market that it has today. About 15 years ago, we began investing in technologies that enabled automotive OEMs and retrofitting and conversion operations to outfit vehicles with systems that significantly reduced vehicles’ CO2 emissions. In Austria, we began engineering and making CNG cylinders for vehicle integration, stationary buffer storage and MEGCs since the 1980s. Since the early 2000s, we have been supplying Volkswagen’s light-duty CNG vehicle platform as a Tier-1 supplier. In Poland, we began engineering and making products for LPG- and CNG-fuelled vehicles, and we have supplied high-capacity CNG transport storage solutions.
The experience and expertise we acquired in LPG and CNG – today sometimes referred to as transition technologies – allowed a smooth knowledge transfer to hydrogen mobility markets. Here we supply onboard fuelling systems for cars, buses and trucks as well as transport and storage solutions for hydrogen refueling stations. In the US and Europe, Worthington was among the first movers in this space and has pioneered many solutions that have helped attain the critical mass needed to prove hydrogen has staying power as a clean fuel for today and tomorrow.
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