Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF are developing a sensor-based on-board structural monitoring system to continuously monitor hydrogen tanks for potential damage.
The system uses acoustic emission sensors to detect high-frequency sound waves generated by broken carbon fibers in the tank’s composite material. Fiber-optic strain sensors are also used to monitor strains at the tank surface.
The data from the sensors is processed by evaluation electronics to provide information about the tank’s health status. This information can be used to assess the damage caused by minor impacts or to estimate the remaining service life of the tank.
The system is still under development, but the researchers have already demonstrated its ability to detect damage in test rigs and thin-walled tank models. They are now working on integrating the system into high-pressure hydrogen tanks and testing it on a test vehicle.
The development of a reliable on-board structural monitoring system for hydrogen tanks could have a significant impact on the safety and efficiency of hydrogen vehicles. The system could help to prevent accidents by detecting damage early and could also extend the service life of hydrogen tanks, reducing costs and environmental impact.
The researchers at Fraunhofer LBF have made significant progress in developing the system, but further work is needed to integrate the system into high-pressure hydrogen tanks and to develop reliable algorithms for damage classification.