Written by Keith Croysdale, Business Development Manager at Luxfer Gas Cylinders

The UK Government believes that hydrogen will provide between 20 to 35% of total final energy consumed across the nation by 2050. However, in order for hydrogen to support decarbonization, hydrogen producers must be connected to users. A paper recently published by the Hydrogen Energy Association (HEA) has highlighted the complexity of this issue.

Authored by the HEA’s Hydrogen Transportation and Storage Working Group, the report was entitled ‘The Role for Transport and Storage in Delivering the Hydrogen Transition’.

It calls on the Government to take accelerated action, so hydrogen can be maximized as part of the UK energy strategy. A key recommendation includes innovation around high-capacity virtual pipeline solutions. And with its recent investment in this area, Luxfer Gas Cylinders is uniquely placed to deliver on these ambitions with its hydrogen storage solutions expertise.

Bridging the gap between producers and users

A transition to hydrogen from non-renewable fuels and electric vehicle solutions is gathering pace. At the forefront of this, Luxfer Gas Cylinders is identifying ways to make the clean gas more viable in decades to come.

Considering that hydrogen availability will increase in the UK and Europe, being able to transport and store it is crucial. The objective is for hydrogen to safely and efficiently reach the businesses and operators that need it.

Individual areas of the supply chain are working in silo – despite being faced with common challenges around:

– Funding
– Regulation clarification
– Supply chain delays
– Limited gas production
– Infrastructure constraints.

MEGCs – efficient hydrogen storage solutions and transportation solution

Putting our engineering prowess to the test, Luxfer Gas Cylinder has developed a way to connect hydrogen production, to hydrogen users, through a virtual gas pipeline. The result is efficient and high-capacity hydrogen cylinders, and Multiple Element Gas Containers (MEGCs).

Available in 20ft, 40ft and 45ft units, the MEGCs are available with Luxfer’s trusted G-Stor™ Pro Type 3 cylinder, or the lightweight G-Stor™ Go Type 4 technology at pressures up to 380bar (5511psi). Importantly, MEGCs tackle infrastructure barriers facing the hydrogen supply chain. They make it possible for up to 1.5 tonnes of the gas to be stored and transported efficiently. 

Our alternative fuel design team developed an industry-leading level of hydrogen storage capacity into a product offering known as the G-Stor™ Hydrosphere. It represents one of our largest innovation projects.

A new, purpose-built production facility at our Nottingham site will produce the G-Stor™ Hydrospheres. Summer 2024 will see the very first units ready to be deployed.

This construction project represents Luxfer Gas Cylinders’ global mission — making a difference to help create a safe, clean and energy efficient world.

A mobile and lightweight hydrogen storage solution to encourage adoption

Luxfer has made innovation core to its operation, exploring a myriad of new products and branching out into new markets since 1958.

During development of our MEGCs, our design team identified a gap in the market to support the hydrogen economy through virtual gas pipeline options for smaller quantities of gas.

This paved the way for our G-Stor™ Pro Bundle. It is a multiple cylinder package (MCP) comprised of a modular, interconnected system of cylinders – and an important stepping stone for the adoption of hydrogen fuel.

Drawing on Luxfer’s trusted Type 3 G-Stor™ H2 cylinders, nine interconnected cylinders are stacked horizontally. Due to the unique cylinder liner processing, which reduces weight and increases volume, they can store a larger volume of gas in a smaller footprint compared to other available options.

These cylinder packages, launched in 2023, offer mobility and portability, enabling hydrogen to be transported via trucks, ships, or rail to different locations. They are suitable for marine applications, construction vehicles, running generators or even to fill test vehicles where a refueller or large storage may be deemed too costly for the small amount of gas required to check a fuel cell is working correctly. 

The MCPs:

– Have a lightweight, durable, high strength frame
– Can be slotted into an existing structure and onto trucks or trailers seamlessly
– Have custom panel artwork as an optional extra to display customer branding
– Have a booster control skid, top mount lifting aid and over pressure valves included to deliver safe operation throughout the life cycle of the product
– Reduce the need to manage cylinder stocks and eliminate time lost in cylinder changeover and handling, as well as gas wastage.

In fact, two G-Stor™ Pro Bundles will be used at Nottingham UK site soon, replacing our existing rental model to feed our manufacturing press. Introducing this solution into our operation demonstrates Luxfer’s commitment to minimising our own environmental impact.

Our role in the future of hydrogen storage solutions

The hydrogen industry is fast-moving. But at Luxfer we have a decades-long legacy, working with hydrogen technology when it was an outlier and it was impossible to predict the direction it would take.

While some uncertainty remains, we believe the future of hydrogen transportation will involve a combination of physical pipelines and virtual pipeline alternatives such as MCPs and MEGCs. We expect each solution will be utilised on different parts of the supply chain, meeting diverse needs in the evolving hydrogen economy.

An expanding physical pipeline, we anticipate, is unlikely to result in a retraction of the virtual pipeline. Instead, a redeployment of virtual pipeline solutions will best service the first and final miles of distribution.

What is clear is further policy planning is needed to pave the way for hydrogen to fulfil its potential for net zero. The HEA are championing this.  For our part, Luxfer will continue to lend its expertise to debates. After all, with our engineering excellence and proven track record in world-leading alternative fuel solutions, we’re well placed to do so.