A Luxfer legacy from oxygen to hydrogen
Of course, high pressure gas containment demands the utmost standards of safety and quality, and Luxfer’s proven track record is a key reason why the company is leading the market. Luxfer has an 80-year history in cylinder technology, with its presence in the alternative fuels sector underpinned by considerable legacy in healthcare, offering the smallest and most lightweight oxygen cylinders – with over 15 million alternative fuel cylinders in operation today.
Our success in providing alternative fuel systems represents our third major exploration of the hydrogen market, but the appetite wasn’t as evident in the early 2000s and around 2012/13. This means that our latest designs are based on the work of Luxfer engineers from 15 years ago, updated to embed the very latest in cylinder technology. Luxfer has essentially been a ‘sleeping giant’ for two decades, putting in the work behind the scenes and applying what we’ve learnt along the way, honing our capabilities so we’re ready. Today it is a hugely competitive environment. Some companies that are new on the block are keen to make headway into hydrogen storage solutions, but one might say it can be difficult to grasp in 18 months the knowhow that’s evolved through 80 years.
Applying the very latest cylinder technology
Innovation is at the heart of Luxfer, and a new cylinder range specific to this market is currently being developed. We have transferred our trusted, proprietary technology over to the bulk gas transport market in the form of our Type 3 cylinder.
This cylinder features a Luxfer-manufactured aluminium liner, fully over-wrapped with aerospace-grade carbon fibre. This choice might seem counterintuitive to using a Type 4 cylinder with a polymer liner, because our Type 3 cylinder is heavier than a Type 4. But, crucially, the high thermal conductivity of our aluminium liner helps remove heat from the gas generated during the filling process. The heat produced in a fast-fill could damage a Type 4 polymer-lined cylinder. To circumvent this you’d need to chill the gas or slow down the filling time – and companies want a speedy turnaround.
Importantly, with Type 3 technology, all of the hydrogen involved in the system can be utilised, with no wastage. All round they’re the right solution because they are more robust, fill faster, won’t leak, and therefore they increase the asset value of the entire system. Plus, Luxfer’s G-Stor cylinders are among the highest-capacity, lightest-weight Type 3 alternative fuel cylinders in the world.
What’s exciting is there is a real opportunity for the hydrogen revolution to gather momentum, and the increasing demand we’re seeing supports that. We’re not just talking about it, but bringing a viable solution to market, with a credible technology that right now is in its infancy, and will increase exponentially from 2023.
We’re working quickly, but that lead time is due to a robust programme of testing and approval to meet the highest safety standards. Luxfer teams in Canada, America and the United Kingdom are collaborating in what is a huge team effort to design and produce BGT systems. It’s true co-creation.
Other companies want to get involved given the demand, and we see this as positive. It drives forward innovation, and we welcome that – it will further advance the hydrogen revolution that we will play a part in.
And it encompasses a wide range of areas. For example, we’re working with a number of organisations that are pioneering the adaption of internal combustion engines to work on 100% hydrogen, which is a completely difference proposition for all the engines and motors in fleets around the world.
The technology is evolving daily to create the environment that will enable a hydrogen economy to prosper. While we have made huge strides forward in this sector, Luxfer isn’t stopping here. We have a great ambition to push this technology, helping deploy hydrogen on a game changing scale – safely of course – and we have the right expertise to do it.
Author - Keith Croysdale, Business Development Manager at Luxfer Gas Cylinders.
Publisher - GasWorld