The Department of Defense (DoD) has initiated programs to channel funding towards advancements in hydrogen technologies for military vehicles, spanning aircraft, ground support, and marine applications. Among the innovative proposals selected, one stands out – a groundbreaking project by Infinite Composites focusing on redefining hydrogen storage through revolutionary container designs.
For hydrogen to serve as a viable fuel source, it must be stored at high pressures, typically ranging between 350 to 700 bar (5,000 to 10,000 psi) for various vehicle applications. This high-pressure storage is essential to maximize the amount of hydrogen that can be stored, thus extending the vehicle’s range. Conventionally, hydrogen storage tanks have adhered to cylindrical or sometimes spherical designs to evenly distribute the intense pressure. However, these traditional forms often fail to align with the diverse design requirements of modern vehicles, be they military aircraft or civilian cars.
Infinite Composites, a forward-thinking company specializing in advanced materials, has proposed an innovative solution to this storage challenge – conformable hydrogen tanks. These tanks, designed to revolutionize hydrogen storage and transportation, have the potential to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in both military and civilian applications. By adopting non-cylindrical geometries, these tanks can be strategically placed within a vehicle, even integrated into the wings of an aircraft.
“These tanks will be manufactured using 90 percent additive manufacturing processes and are designed to be lightweight, using non-cylindrical geometries, making them easier to transport and use in a variety of different environments,” explained Matt Villarreal, CEO and Co-Founder of Infinite Composites. “They are made of advanced composite materials that leverage nano-scaled reinforcements, allowing for greater strength and durability while maintaining a lightweight design.”
Infinite Composites has forged a partnership with Dr. Ranji Vaidyanthan, head of the Next Generation Materials Lab at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa. Together, they are diligently working to develop conformable hydrogen tanks that meet the stringent standards and requirements of the military. Their collaborative efforts have already borne fruit in the realm of compressed natural gas (CNG) applications, thanks to research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST).
The innovation doesn’t stop at military applications. Commercial clients, including industry leaders like Skydweller Aero and Empirical Systems Aerospace (ES Aero), have expressed interest in employing conformable hydrogen vessels in their future vehicle designs. Infinite Composites has already designated Skydweller Aero as an initial commercial integration partner. ES Aero, known as the United States distributor for Intelligent Energy’s lightweight hydrogen Fuel Cells, also eyes the integration of Infinite Composite tanks to enhance the capabilities of hydrogen-powered small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS).