EU research partners develop solid state hydrogen storage tank coupled with fuel cell as vehicle APU unit
Partners in a 42-month, €3.5-million (US$4.8-million) EU research project have developed a system comprising a solid state hydrogen storage tank coupled to a fuel cell (SSH2S). The unit was fitted for the first time into an Iveco Daily van as an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), and was able to supply electrical energy for air conditioning, auxiliary heating and lighting.
SSH2 explored the use of a new class of material for hydrogen storage (i.e. MM'(BH4)n mixed borohydrides) as well as a known system (Li-Mg-N-H); the project investigated combining two materials in the storage solution.
The modular hydrogen tank consists of individual tubes placed side by side and filled with two different solids. These storage materials absorb the gaseous hydrogen like a sponge to which it is then bound. This property enables storage of the gas in a small volume under a pressure of 70 bar and normal outside temperature—substantially better than a conventional tank that requires the hydrogen to be kept under a pressure of 700 bar.
The use of solid materials in the tank means that hydrogen can be stored very safely; even if there is a leak, the strong bond between the gas and the storage materials ensures that hydrogen escapes at such a slow rate that there is no risk of explosion.—Inga Bürger, Project Manager at the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics
As part of the project, the researchers connected the tank with solid materials up to a high-temperature fuel cell for the first time, delivering electricity and the heat required to release the hydrogen from the storage materials. The tank has a volume of 10 liters and offers a storage capacity of 1400 liters of hydrogen, sufficient to provide the van’s APU with one kilowatt of electrical energy for two hours.
The University of Turin (UNITO, Italy) coordinated the EU research project SSH2S. EU-wide, it involved seven research centers and companies: DLR, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE, Norway), Tecnodelta s.r.l. (Italy), Serenergy A/S (Denmark), Fiat Research Centre (Italy) and Joint Research Centre of European Commission (JRC, Netherlands).
KIT, IFE, JRC and UNITO lead the development of the storage materials. DLR cooperated with its partners, Technodelta and the Fiat Research Centre, to create the combined tank and the fuel cell coupling, and also their integration within the vehicle. The European Union provided €1.6 million (US$2.2 million) in funding.