Germany-based Voith Composites and China-based composite specialist, HRC (Hengrui Corporation) will jointly work on the next generation of hydrogen high-pressure vessels for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). Yongtao Gu, President of the HRC Group, and Matthias Odrobina, CEO of Voith Composites, signed the memorandum of understanding on behalf of the two companies.
Hydrogen is a clean source of energy and is used for various processes in the industrial environment. Applications in fuel cell electric vehicles require large quantities of hydrogen to be stored at high pressures in appropriate vessels. In order to meet current market requirements, new vessel concepts, process sequences and material systems have to be developed.
Dr Timo Huber, vice president R&D of the HRC Group explains,"One of the greatest challenges of future vehicle concepts will be high-pressure vessels, which will be installed in FCEV as hydrogen tanks and represent one of the biggest cost drivers. More cost-effective solutions will allow new, more competitive applications on the market for fuel cell electric vehicles. Reducing process costs in combination with new vessel concepts are of decisive importance, and this forms the basis of the partnership between HRC and Voith.”
Matthias Odrobina, CEO of Voith Composites says, “China is currently the most important market for vehicles with pressure vessels. With HRC, we have a strong partner at our side with comprehensive expertise in the Chinese market.”
Although the technology of fuel cell electric vehicles has already reached commercial market maturity and leading manufacturers offer particular models in series production, the technology is not yet significantly widespread on the market. FCEVs face a number of difficulties that need to be overcome in order to compete with conventional vehicles (combustion engines, hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids, battery-powered electric cars).
Odrobina further explains, “We have considerable experience in the industrial, automated manufacture of wound composite components such as pressure vessels. I am convinced that by signing this agreement, we will reach a new level of cooperation where both companies will benefit from the broad potential market."
According to Voith, by the end of 2018, the capacity of hydrogen fuel cells in use worldwide had already exceeded 2,090.5 MW and total sales of fuel cell passenger cars, in which the commercial application was implemented for the first time, amounted to 9,900 units.