Since its founding in 1958, FIBA Technologies, Inc. (FIBA) has consistently strived to be a leader in the compressed gas storage and transportation industry. This industry includes equipment for alternative fuels, such as liquid natural gas (LNG), compressed natural gas (CNG), and hydrogen. Hydrogen refueling, in particular, requires a significant volume and a very high pressure. FIBA’s standard product line was just fine for industrial hydrogen distribution and storage, but it was not sufficient for fuel cell applications. To meet the growing commercial demand for hydrogen vehicle refueling, FIBA began to develop a customized pressure vessel that fulfills both the volume and pressure demands of our customers. Our new, Type 2, hoop-wrapped, refillable, composite-reinforced tubes (available in several sizes to tailor gas payloads) provide a storage pressure of 15,000 psi (1000 bar), which allows fast-filling of vessels on board hydrogen-fueled vehicles.
During the course of developing this 15,000-psi, Type 2 tube, FIBA discovered that a means to perform the fatigue crack growth rate (FCGR) testing required by ASME code was not available for a 15,000 psi design pressure. This was a major roadblock for FIBA and one which we urgently needed to overcome. We sought out several domestic laboratories (as well as those located outside the United States) and each one was able to perform the FCGR test upon materials for a storage pressure up to 10,000-psi, but none was able to support our 15,000-psi design pressure. That was until FIBA met Dr. Brian Somerday from Sandia National Laboratories (SNL)! When we shared with him the industry’s predicament, Dr. Somerday graciously offered the services of SNL and his team of engineers to perform the required FCGR tests – provided FIBA was willing to share the results of the work with the industry. FIBA readily agreed and, thankfully for FIBA and the future 15,000 psi hydrogen storage vessel users, SNL and its engineers were able to complete the required tests that allowed a new, necessary product to reach the public sector. FIBA is very grateful for all the assistance SNL has provided. We predict that, as the hydrogen fuel cell industry continues to grow in the commercial sector, there will be considerable interest in our unique pressure vessel as well as the services of Sandia National Laboratories.