LLNL teams with Quantum Fuel Systems to accelerate development of hydrogen storage technologies

March 31, 2008

Vern Switzer (left) and Tim Ross check the pressure on the inner vessel that holds hydrogen of any temperature. (Download Image)

LLNL teams with Quantum Fuel Systems to accelerate development of hydrogen storage technologies

LIVERMORE, Calif. - Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is working with Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies on a next-generation manufacturing technique for hydrogen storage vessels.

As part of a $5.6 million three-year contract with the U.S. Department of Energy, Livermore researchers will demonstrate a unique high-speed composite processing technique.

LLNL participates in DOE's "National Hydrogen Storage Project," which is focused on developing material-based options that can operate at more practical temperatures and pressures and meet the stringent targets required for the ultimate commercialization of hydrogen vehicles across all platforms.

Hydrogen pressure vessels are typically made by winding carbon fiber wetted in adhesive around a liner made of either plastic or metal. This "wet winding" process is slow because the winding speed is limited by diffusion processes that control the adhesion of subsequent layers of fiber. Slow winding increases the cost of the pressure vessels because it requires continuous operation of a dedicated, expensive machine. Oven curing of the finished vessel is often required.

LLNL has developed a dry tape winding process that considerably reduces the time required for pressure vessel winding (15 minutes vs. 3 hours for wet winding), and does not require oven curing.

"This minimizes the cost of pressure vessel manufacturing," said Salvador Aceves, leader of LLNL's Energy Conversion and Storage Group.

"This technique can be applied to any kind of pressure vessel, including those used in the aircraft industry," said Andrew Weisberg, a composite materials engineer at LLNL.

Quantum, which specializes in hydrogen storage systems, also has partnered with the Boeing Company to leverage advances in precision composite material processing technologies in the aerospace sector. The project will develop and demonstrate an innovative hybrid process, which integrates the most optimal features of high precision aerospace and high speed commercial manufacturing techniques.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.