Hydrogen storage is often cited as the greatest obstacle to achieving a hydrogen economy free of environmental pollution and dependence on foreign oil. A compact high-pressure cryogenic storage system has promising features to the storage challenge associated with hydrogen-powered vehicles. Cryogenic pressure vessels consist of an inner vessel designed for high pressure (350 bar) insulated with reflective sheets of metalized plastic and enclosed within an outer metallic vacuum jacket. When filled with pressurized liquid hydrogen, cryogenic pressure vessels become the most compact form of hydrogen storage available. A recent prototype is the only automotive hydrogen vessel meeting both Department of Energy's 2017 weight and volume targets. When installed onboard an experimental vehicle, a cryogenic pressure vessel demonstrated the longest driving distance with a single H-2 tank (1050 km). In a subsequent experiment, the vessel demonstrated unprecedented thermal endurance: 8 days parking with no evaporative losses, extending to a month if the vehicle is driven as little as 8 km per day. Calculations indicate that cryogenic vessels offer compelling safety advantages and the lowest total ownership cost of hydrogen storage technologies. Long-term (similar to 10 years) vacuum stability (necessary for high performance thermal insulation) is the key outstanding technical challenge. Testing continues to establish technical feasibility and safety. Copyright (C) 2012, Hydrogen Energy Publications, LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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