Novel polymeric materials for high-pressure hydrogen gas environments

Presenters: Winoj Balasooriya and Florian Wanghofer, Polymer Competence Center Leoben, Austria

In a response to the climate crisis the world is facing, hydrogen receives great attention as a clean energy carrier as well as a feasible and cost-effective renewable energy storage solution. However, this emphasizes the importance of the improvement of technologies and materials involved in these systems. In terms of the transport sector, the high interest in achieving high mileage, reducing the gas filling time and low-weight storage solutions require an understanding of the unique and versatile characteristics of polymers at pressures up to ~70 – 100 MPa and wide temperature ranges (-40 to 85 °C).

Part 1: Elastomers in high-pressure H2 atmospheres, challenges & possible improvements

Polymeric materials play a vital role in high-pressure hydrogen gas storage, and distribution up to the fuel cell of the vehicle as different components. Therefore, this study discusses the main challenges elastomeric materials face and the development of novel grades to withstand these conditions fulfilling the future demands of the field. The goal is reached by introducing novel filler strategies to improve the transport properties and minimize possible degradation/damage of components. As the sealing of high-pressure gas is a prominent requirement, incorporating 2D fillers together with filler surface functionalization steps is considered for enhancing the barrier properties of components. Further, different filler configurations (CB and Silica) combined with relevant additives are considered for improving the rapid gas decompression (RGD) performance, and the range of working temperature.

Part 2: Polymers for hydrogen gas pressure composite vessels

The development of novel ionic polymers for hydrogen pressure vessels is considered in this study. To this end, ionic liquids are functionalized with epoxy groups and cured with multifunctional hardeners to assess their potential as matrix materials for type V pressure vessels, which are fully composite based without any liner material as gas barrier. Additionally, thermoplastic ionenes are introduced due to their low reported gas permeability and evaluated as candidates for liner materials in type IV hydrogen gas pressure vessels.

Author Bio Winoj Balasooriya

Winoj Balasooriya obtained his doctoral degree (Ph.D.) from the Institute of Materials Science and Testing of Polymers at Montanuniversität Leoben, Austria, for his work on the topic of Aging and long-term performance of elastomers for utilization in harsh environments in 2019. In this work, he focused on elastomeric materials used in oil and gas field applications and studied the possible degradations in actual conditions and catastrophic failure called Rapid Gas Decompression (RGD). His research field covers material science and testing of elastomers, fracture mechanics, RGD, and reliability of polymers in high-pressure gas conditions.

Author Bio Florian Wanghofer

Florian Wanghofer is a Ph.D. student at the Polymer Competence Center Leoben GmbH within the COMET Module Polymers4Hydrogen. His research work focuses on the development and improvement of materials for hydrogen pressure composite vessels. He completed his Master’s degree in Polymer Engineering and Science at the University of Leoben in 2020, where he already worked on novel epoxy systems in the field of reversible adhesives.