Improved hydrogen tanks for fuel cell cars of the future

The EU funded COPERNIC project, supported by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), succeeded in improving the quality of materials and design of hydrogen storage tanks for cars. It also made the manufacturing of these tanks more cost efficient, helping to make hydrogen cars a more viable and competitive option.

The end result of the project was that the cost of a hydrogen fuel tank was reduced, thanks to improved materials and better manufacturing techniques.

“COPERNIC’s tank costs five times less than other tanks available today,” explains project coordinator Stephane Villalonga of CEA in France.

One SME, RAIGI, a project partner based in France, worked on developing a material to be used in the production of the hydrogen tank. Following successful test performances, the company is now looking to scale up and commercialise this process. Another research partner developed new monitoring techniques to ensure safety and integrity of the hydrogen tanks.

“It has been important for us to transfer our scientific work -into industrial reality,” says Pawel Gasior from Poland’s Wroclaw University of Science and Technology (WUT), a project partner.

Since completion of the COPERNIC project in November 2016, the project's partner companies, mostly SMEs, have sought to capitalise on this breakthrough and move this potentially game-changing technology closer to commercialisation.

Certification and commercialisation

And so, building on the success of COPERNIC, project partners CEA, RAIGI, Optimum CPV and WUT are engaged in a new project - Hiphone - supported by the EU programme KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) InnoEnergy.

This project aims to develop and certify the hydrogen tank based on COPERNIC results. In spring 2018, the new RAIGI/OCPV joint venture called HYCE will manufacture and commercialise the first European tank of 64 litres at 700 bar pressure for on-board hydrogen storage.

This highlights the synergies of EU support for innovative SMEs in bringing their products to the market.

“Many of the SMEs involved in COPERNIC have become important players in the manufacture of hydrogen vehicles,” says Villalonga. “This has created new activity in the field and job opportunities.”

For example, Optimum CPV, a COPERNIC partner, hired additional technicians and engineers, increasing turnover by 50% and concluding commercial agreements in the US, South America, Japan, South Korea and China. In December 2017 the company was acquired by the French automotive supplier Plastic Omnium, one of the big global players in the market.

During the project, ANLEG, another SME project partner, invested in hydrogen infrastructure and production, including a testing facility. This resulted in increased turnover and strong customer interest, generating new job and business opportunities in the aerospace and car manufacturing industries.

“2018 will be a key year for Europe in terms of developing industrial and commercial strategies,” says Villalonga. “CEA will play an important role in the development of a new generation of clean transport solutions for Europe.”

Article source: European Commission, Research & Innovation Information center,read the full article here

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