We are able to carry our longtime and proven experience in sealing solutions for ICEs (Internal Combustion Engine), industrial applications and injection molding expertise into the hydrogen industry.
Saint-Gobain is working on developments for both hydrogen engine types, Fuell Cells and H2ICE. As our material experts work on different mix of polymers and metals on Low-pressure and High-pressure Hydrogen environments, our R&D departments are involved in carrying our industry expertise to the automotive business.
We are working with our partners and customers in co-designing hydrogen technologies. With our own simulation and testing capabilities we are able to prove new solutions and work agile on our developments before bringing these to the market.
Low permeation solutions for Hydrogen tanks, valves, flaps and compressors with our wide product range include:
We are one global technical team continuously studying on proven solutions in both local and dedicated corporate R&D centers with our core competencies. The focus of our studies is more on the characteristics of the H2 behaviour and our materials as well as some application testing with the collaboration of our customers. Our material and design concepts are based on our studies of Aging, RGD, thermal behavior and permeation in high pressure, as well as mechanical and tribological properties in both low and high pressure.
While in the automotive market battery-driven e-cars have prevailed, the ICEs of heavy-duty vehicles (commercial vehicles) are harder to electrify: Energy consumption, high pressure and long distances are the main issues that would exceed the limit of batteries.
On short distances, such as transportation (this implies passenger transportation as well as transportation of goods) within cities, the battery driven trucks are a realistic option, medium and heavy-duty transport systems and long-haul transportation are most likely to use hydrogen technologies: hydrogen fuel cells or hydrogen engines.
Both work with different technologies, different applications and have different requirements, but share the same function: powering a vehicle using hydrogen.
Advantages of hydrogen:
- Wider mileage range (up to 1.000 km / 628 miles)
- Low refueling time (few minutes)
Hydrogen fuel cells are a new and highly developed technology to produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The hydrogen reacts with oxygen across an electrochemical cell similar to that of a battery to produce electricity, water, and small amounts of heat.
FCEVs (Fuel Cell Electronic Vehicles) produce electricity using a fuel cell powered by hydrogen, rather than drawing electricity from only a battery. During the vehicle design process, the vehicle manufacturer defines the power of the vehicle by the size of the electric motor(s) that receives electric power from the appropriately sized fuel cell and battery combination.
The amount of energy stored onboard is determined by the size of the hydrogen fuel tank. This is different from an all-electric vehicle, where the amount of power and energy available are both closely related to the battery's size.
Most FCEVs today use the battery for recapturing braking energy, providing extra power during short acceleration events, and to smooth out the power delivered from the fuel cell with the option to idle or turn off the fuel cell during low power needs.
HYDROGEN ENGINES (H2ICE) use an existing technology which is nothing new at all: the internal combustion engines. The main difference is on exhaust system which produces water and small dose of harmful gases. Engine manufacturers are working on switching kits for an intermediate solutions until FCEV technology is fully developed.
Decades of work on ICEs offer a boost to hydrogen engine development, though the use of hydrogen creates considerable challenges. Any part in contact with hydrogen must be chosen carefully because of special requirements and certain risks:
To commercialize the vehicles with H2FCEV or H2ICE sooner, building an infrastructure is the priority of all countries with a specific decarbonization strategy.
Hydrogen is an extremely light, non-toxic gas stored in hydrogen tanks – a certain level of risk in storage.
When compressed as gas, the tanks have to withstand a pressure between 350 and 700 bar. The gas is able to diffuse through certain materials, therefore the leakage is a very important issue when using hydrogen as an energy carrier.
Even though the construction of a tank is very simple, the tank itself is one very critical component: the condition and amount of hydrogen needs constant needs to be monitored constantly to ensure safe and stable operation of the system.
The tank is part of an entire storage system and interfaces with it through Piping (extraction and insertion of hydrogen), Sensors (monitoring fill level and temperature) and Safety valves (thermal pressure relief valve, boil off valves).
Automotive applications generally settle for a 350 bar or a 700 bar hydrogen tank. E.g. a typical fuel cell electric vehicle (hydrogen car tank) capacity is around 4-6 kg of hydrogen with a tank weight of around 100 kg.
Hydrogen can also be stored in liquid form. This offers the advantage of higher energy density and requires less storage space. The liquification of hydrogen requires low temperatures (22 K or 252,87 °C) therefore the tanks used need to withstand low temperatures and offer sufficient thermal insulation for operational safety to avoid boil off. These cryogenic hydrogen tanks may integrate an additional cooling function.
Liquid hydrogen is mainly used in spacecraft, for transporting or storing large amounts of hydrogen and only in few mobile and aeronautic applications. (source: hyfindr.com/hydrogen-tank/)
Hydrogen engines can significantly contribute towards accomplishing a sustainable future. The Saint-Gobain Group has set global goals towards the achievement of working as a sustainable company.
January 26th, 2023