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Fuel Storage Containers

Fuel Cell R & D development efforts, in many cases, depend heavily upon the infrastructure, and more specifically, the containment technologies employed to store the fuel cell’s primary fuel. In the case of Proton Exchange Membrane or Solid Oxide Fuel Cells, this can mean specialized hydrogen tanks that are constructed to safely contain highly pressurized hydrogen gas. In the case of Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC’s), liquid methanol requires a cartridge that allows the methanol fuel to be introduced directly to the fuel cell without exposing users to this poisonous chemical..

Hydrogen Storage Tanks

Hydrogen tanks intended for fuel cell use require a highly specialized product. They’re required to contain pressurized gas so the tendency is to build a thick-walled container, however the excessive weight involved in these tanks negates the gains associated with hydrogen fuel cells, when transportability of the fuel becomes a factor in design. The most efficient solution is some kind of lightweight composite storage tank with high tensile strength. In addition, some of these hydrogen tanks utilize resistive coatings that are immune to the high reactivity of hydrogen gas. This chemical interaction of hydrogen in direct contact with certain metals or compounds can over time weaken tank walls as hydrogen is the most highly reactive element on the periodic table. The following companies offer commercial off the shelf solutions for hydrogen storage vessels that can be employed for fuel cell use:

Lincoln Composites – Lincoln Composites makes an extensive line of all-composite fuel tanks that are deemed part of their TUFFSHELL® line of products. These fuel tanks can be purchased in a multitude of sizes and are relatively lightweight capable of storing high pressure hydrogen gas or liquid fuels.

Ovonic Hydrogen Systems – Ovonic Hydrogen Systems based out of Rochester Hills, MI builds hydrogen storage tanks utilizing a proprietary alloy for their hydrogen containment vessels. Several options are available within the standard product line. However the capable staff at Ovonics Hydrogen Systems is open to manufacture a custom solution if necessary.

Structural Composites Industries (SCI) – SCI has an extensive line of composite tanks for use with any high pressure or low pressure application. SCI has experience supplying composite tanks for alternative energy solutions including compressed hydrogen and liquid natural gas (LNG) fleet vehicles.

Methanol Cartridges

In the case of Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC’s), a system of standardized methanol canisters has yet to be adopted to allow widespread use of methanol into the commercial marketplace. Methanol as a liquid, although promising as a fuel, has several drawbacks with relation to its affect on the human body. See The Down Side of Methanol. In either case there are manufacturers in the commercial sector that offer these methanol cartridges for fuel cell designers. The Methanol cartridge appears to be the safest means of supplying methanol to consumers. The following is a list of commercially available, off-the-shelf methanol cartridge suppliers:

Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Corporation (DMFCC) - DMFCC is a provider of disposable fuel cartridges for direct methanol and other liquid hydrocarbon fuel cells. DMFCC has designed a series of compact, lightweight plastic cartridges that can be customized for your application.

SFC Smart Fuel Cell AG / EFOY – EFOY also produces a methanol fuel containers for its DMFC in 5.0L and 10.0L sizes. These containers are made of highly impact-resistant plastic and are equipped with a safety valve to prevent leakage.