HRC and Voith Composites co-develop hydrogen high pressure vessels for fuel cell applications

Sep 12, 2019   Tier Suppliers

Voith Composites and HRC, a leading composite solution provider, will jointly work on the next generation of hydrogen high pressure vessels for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).

Yongtao Gu, President of the HRC Group, and Matthias Odrobina, CEO of Voith Composites, recently signed the memorandum of understanding on behalf of the two companies.

(pictured, from left to right, Yihong Ge, CFO HRC Group, Yongtao Gu, President HRC Group, Matthias Odrobina, CEO Voith Composites and Dr. Lars Herbeck, CTO Voith Composites)

Hydrogen high-pressure vessels are a major cost factor in hydrogen vehicles

Hydrogen is a clean source of energy and is used for various processes in the industrial environment. Applications in fuel cell electric vehicles require large quantities of hydrogen to be stored at high pressures in appropriate vessels. In order to meet current market requirements, new vessel concepts, process sequences and material systems have to be developed.

"One of the greatest challenges of future vehicle concepts will be high pressure vessels, which will be installed in FCEV as hydrogen tanks and represent one of the biggest cost drivers. More cost-effective solutions will allow new, more competitive applications on the market for fuel cell electric vehicles. Reducing process costs in combination with new vessel concepts is of decisive importance, and this forms the basis of the partnership between HRC and Voith", explained Dr. Timo Huber, Vice President R&D of the HRC Group.

Increasing importance of fuel cell electric vehicles

Although the technology of fuel cell electric vehicles has already reached commercial market maturity and leading manufacturers offer particular models in series production, the technology is not yet significantly widespread on the market. FCEVs face a number of difficulties that need to be overcome in order to compete with conventional vehicles (combustion engines, hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids, battery-powered electric cars).

“We have considerable experience in the industrial, automated manufacture of wound composite components such as pressure vessels. I am convinced that by signing this agreement, we will reach a new level of cooperation where both companies will benefit from the broad potential market," explained Matthias Odrobina, CEO of Voith Composites.

By the end of 2018, the capacity of hydrogen fuel cells in use worldwide had already exceeded 2,090.5 MW and total sales of fuel cell passenger cars, in which the commercial application was implemented for the first time, amounted to 9,900 units.

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