Manufacturing abilities broaden with aim to decarbonise!

Elite GSS are onboard with the Hydrogen Pressure Vessel, a composite Hydrogen Storage Tank that has been developed for net zero carbon use in the automotive sector.

Composites experts from the University of Sheffield AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) worked alongside two SME manufacturers on the 12-month project, with their proposition to support supply chains to build their manufacturing capability and accelerate the decarbonisation of road transportation.

They joined forces with Crossfield Excalibur, a specialist in tooling design of rotational-moulded parts, and Elite Ground Support Services, a provider of rotational, extrusion and compression moulding technologies, advice, and manufacturing for a large range of commercial industrial sectors including automotive.

Together, they designed, manufactured, and tested a Type 4 cylindrical Hydrogen (H2) Pressure Vessel, made from carbon-fibre using a filament winding process over a thermoplastic liner. The tank has been designed for use in the automotive sector, and with the high projected future demand for such tanks, there has been virtually no UK manufacturing capability for composite pressure vessels.

The AMRC, part of the national network of High Value Manufacturing Catapult research centres, is at the forefront of hydrogen tank prototyping.

Zeeshan Qureshi, Lead Research Engineer at the AMRC Composite Centre
 

He confidently added, “Using state-of-the-art machines, cost-effective processes and working closely with our two chosen partners, we are on a mission to help accelerate the UK hydrogen supply chain and enable rapid production of the Hydrogen Pressure Vessels to meet net zero targets and push forward the decarbonisation of road transportation nationwide.
The project has also given us the chance to explore a process that has not been researched much within the UK.
”.

h2 pressure vessel manufacturing from AMRC, Crossfield Excalibur and Elite GSS
Part of the project’s work is to help reduce fossil fuel usage in ground transport applications by enabling the UK manufacture of safe, lightweight, and affordable hydrogen storage tanks.

Heavy long-haul vehicles are the most challenging segment of the road sector to reduce emissions’ options, due to their long journey distances and heavy payload requirements.”.

Stuart Dawson, Chief Engineer for hydrogen at the AMRC
 

He added, “For the operational economics to stack up, HGVs need long range and fast refuelling. Battery powered HGVs have major disadvantages such as the high weight of the batteries, low range and long recharging times that reduce the vehicle’s potential payload.”.

Hydrogen-fuelled vehicles powered via fuel cells or combustion are an ideal solution, and something that is needed for transport applications is safe, affordable, and lightweight hydrogen storage tanks. The collaborative project has successfully created a secure supply chain within the UK for thermoplastic liners to the country’s automotive original equipment manufacturers.

It was ‘fantastic’ to work in collaboration with the AMRC and Elite GSS on a cutting-edge design.
This project has given us the chance to deploy our experience along with the wider team, where we have designed and developed a roto-moulding insert, capable of moulding that withstands significant pressures.
”.

Steve Davies, Managing Director of Crossfield Excalibur
 

The opportunity to work alongside AMRC and Crossfield Excalibur has ‘pushed boundaries’ for the company in many areas. Not only are we pleased to be developing a new and innovative product for the UK market, but we’re also testing and stretching our manufacturing abilities further than ever before.”.

Kris Heard, Managing Director for Elite GSS
 

This project was chosen as it fits in with some of our key business objectives; we strive to manufacture and distribute new and revolutionary technology whilst also having a key focus on the environment and reducing our carbon footprint.

Investment into the creation of these Hydrogen Pressure Vessels follows the launch of the government’s net zero and hydrogen strategies, aimed at supporting the UK to deliver on its pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The project was funded by the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult.

Next steps for the group are to continue optimising the design and the manufacturing process, to further develop testing capabilities and look to increase its storage capacity, in preparation to support automotive supply chains.