Breakthrough in Hydrogen Storage for Fuel Cells
12 September 2000IMPCO, Lawrence Livermore & Thiokol Team Achieve Breakthrough in Hydrogen Storage for Fuel Cells
IRVINE, Calif., Sept. 12 IMPCO Technologies, Inc. announced today that a team of scientists from IMPCO, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL) and Thiokol Propulsion, Alcoa Industrial Components Group, a subsidiary of Alcoa Inc., successfully hydroburst tested a high performance prototype hydrogen storage cylinder designed for Fuel Cell Vehicle applications (FCVs) and achieved a mass performance record of 11.3% hydrogen storage by weight, the highest storage efficiency ever demonstrated. The significance of this achievement means that fuel cell vehicles can now travel further between refueling intervals (greatly extended range) than previously thought possible. On-board direct hydrogen storage is simple, cost-effective, durable, and safe for automotive use and allows elimination of on-board fuel reformers, which are expensive, complex, and physically large in size and generate emissions. This new compressed hydrogen storage device allows more efficient storage compared to alternatives such as metal hydrides (1.5-3% by weight at room temperature) or liquid hydrogen (up to 8% by weight). According to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers, "This very high cycle life tankage technology is enabling for hydrogen fueled fuel cell and internal combustion engine vehicles, which demand lightweight gas storage to achieve attractive driving range. The tank technology being developed is being funded by the DOE under a cost shared program with IMPCO and Thiokol and will be designed for passenger vehicle applications at maximum operating pressures of 350 Bar with a safety factor of 2.25. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers are maximizing the leverage of DOE funding by adopting and adapting advanced aerospace technologies. The safe gaseous hydrogen pressure vessel technology they are developing can reversibly store more energy per unit mass than any other non-nuclear technology. This project is a key part of LLNL's effort to develop high cycle life energy storage systems with > 600 Wh / kg specific energy for various applications, including: zero emission vehicles, high altitude solar rechargeable electric aircraft, spacecraft systems that combine energy storage and propulsion, remote power sources, and renewable electrical utilities. This collaboration between government and industry is solving technical risks at the component level, pushing the envelope in lightweight tankage, developing commercializable products with > 90% confidence level (for delivery next year), and meeting the integration challenges arising on DOE demonstration vehicles." Syed Hussain, Vice President and General Manager of IMPCO's Technology and Automotive OEM Division said, "This collaborative effort between government and industry allows for enabling technologies such as these to be developed with shared risk. The successful transition from development to mass production and commercialization is a core competency of IMPCO. This is a major achievement in hydrogen storage technologies that will enable Fuel Cell Vehicles to travel further between refueling than previously thought possible with near term technologies."