Hydrogen Pressure Vessels Explained
FIBA Technologies is acknowledged as the leading designer and manufacturer of hydrogen pressure vessels globally. The company is renowned for its technical capabilities and design innovation. Its work has benefitted the hydrogen sector as a whole on many fronts: for instance, FIBA’s technical engineering team was the first to develop hydrogen pressure storage vessels to operate at 15,000 psi (1,034 bar).
FIBA’s hydrogen storage vessels are in use around the world, by small start-ups and by gas majors. As hydrogen is increasingly embraced as a leading alternative fuel, hydrogen storage vessels are a more common sight at refueling stations and at industrial sites. Hydrogen pressure vessels are also used for transportation and FIBA is at the cutting edge of developing and manufacturing trailers that form the backbone of the world’s growing hydrogen infrastructure.
Here we look at the four main types of hydrogen pressure vessels used to store the gas at a high pressure for a variety of end uses, discussing their construction and their key attributes.
The Main Types of Hydrogen Pressure Vessel
Type I hydrogen pressure vessels are designed for a long and robust life, in all weathers and environments. Constructed entirely of carbon steel, FIBA’s seamless hydrogen pressure vessels can be as long as 38’ and can carry a payload of almost 32,000 cubic feet at 450 bar.
They are the heaviest of the four types of pressure vessel, but have the lowest initial acquisition cost.
Used as ground storage in hydrogen refueling stations and on trailers, FIBA’s hydrogen pressure vessels can also be deployed for other specialty gases.
The Type II pressure vessel consists of two layers – an inner metal layer and an outer partial wrapping that is usually made of cable or a glass fiber composite.
Due to their use of glass fiber they weigh less than the Type I all-steel vessel. But this also means they are not as robust and are more vulnerable to cyclic failure than Type I
With a metallic liner (usually aluminum) and a composite outer shell, the Type II pressure vessel is up to 70% lighter than the Type I, giving a high capacity-to-weight ratio. But the cost of the Type III (up to 3x greater than the Type I) and the relative fragility of the liner are factors against its use.
With a fully-composite construction, the Type IV hydrogen pressure vessel is far lighter than the Type I and has a greater capacity-to-weight ratio.
The Type IV has a polymer liner (usually HDPE) that is wrapped with a carbon fiber or glass fiber composite shell.
Issues of permeability and a lack of robustness in terms of environmental damage do come into play with the Type IV, and they require a far higher investment than Type I.
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