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High-tech tanks to fuel hydrogen car, um, boom

When it comes to safely storing hydrogen for car fuel cells, Buckytubes may be the future, but the here and now appears to be carbon fibers that can contain a lot more of the pressurized gas.

Japan’s Nippon Oil is working on a new tanker that it hopes will be ready soon (relatively speaking – it’s looking to 2015) to transport the hydrogen it predicts fuel-cell vehicles will be guzzling instead of gasoline.

Current solutions use cast-iron cylinders that are heavy, expensive and low in capacity.

A typical tanker now can transport enough hydrogen for just 60 fuel-cell cars, whereas Nippon Oil’s new tank uses carbon fiber and a compound that can safely absorb changes in internal pressure to hold enough for 300 vehicles.

Lastly, if you’re wondering how much of this pie is really just in the sky, the Nikkei business paper tells us why hydrogen is the go-to gas:

“The relation goes deeper than a substitute for gasoline profits because oil refiners already make large amounts of hydrogen and are in a good position to profit from the transition to fuel cell cars.

“At oil refineries, hydrogen is used for the process of removing sulfur contaminants from gasoline and diesel fuel, and the refiners make that hydrogen themselves from crude oil and petroleum products. The oil companies are really good at handling hydrogen.”

(Via Nikkei [Subscription link])

09:50 PM JMLH • Permalink
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