The Project

Intensified global focus on the use of cleaner energy are making us more considerate of the impact of the fuels and energy we use on a daily basis whilst spawning innovative developments, including the introduction of alternative fuels such as hydrogen.

Specialising in the design and fabrication of vessels capable of withstanding intense pressures and complying with other rigorous performance criteria, LTi Metaltech worked with clean energy storage expert ITM Power to create coded pressure vessels for storing hydrogen in the latest ‘green’ energy powered vehicles to be installed at fuel stations across the UK.

With car makers such as Honda and Toyota investing heavily in this field and governments encouraging the move away from fossil fuels, fuel station owners are having to consider what the future holds, including the arrival of technology such as hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Throughout this demanding project, LTi Metaltech demonstrated its ability to deliver a custom, cost-effective component within complex parameters and rigorous safety requirements, including EN 13445.

LTi’s challenge

The project was a two-fold process. LTi was required to come up with a completely new design for the structure, whilst conforming to the product design specification (PDS) supplied by ITM Power. The PDS covered areas such as the expected pressures on the vessel, the temperature ranges within it, and its life cycle amongst others.

Consequently, LTi needed to factor in these parameters at all stages of the vessel’s design and production, ensuring the processes complied with EN 13445.

LTi’s second challenge was to use an alternative material to the carbon steel being used in the pressure vessels at the time. The carbon steel was susceptible to constant corrosion within the vessel structure, as well as other issues with oxidisation on the outside of the structure.

This called on LTi’s award-winning innovation and expertise in metal fabrication both in terms of sourcing a material which would make the vessel cost-effective to produce and adhering all other technical specifications required for the working envelope.

LTi’s solution

As one of the UK’s leading specialists in metal fabrication, LTi has many years’ experience in using stainless steel to manufacture complex structures for clients. ITM Power’s pressure vessel requirements were no less challenging. In this case, LTi opted for robust stainless steel segments which could be shaped to size using the high-end cutting and forming capabilities, including waterjet cutting, edge and plate rolling.

LTi’s CAD solutions led to the creation of a series of modelled designs according to the parameters required in the envelope. The designs highlighted areas in the client’s original concept which needed to be revisited, such as the vessel’s life cycle as well as its capacity.

To meet required specification, LTi used an independent reviewer to carry out evaluations on the design throughout the process. Computer aided simulations mirrored the conditions the vessel was likely to encounter over the course of its 10-year life cycle, and highlighted areas of potential fatigue, which LTi were then able to modify and enhance.

The simulations also revealed how the vessel would react under extreme working pressures, giving both LTi and ITM Power the opportunity to assess all aspects of its performance, making alterations as necessary. This cycle of inspections and simulations meant that careful and thorough analysis was completed at all stages.

The result

Following extensive evaluation and testing, LTi were able to deliver a hydrogen-power coded pressure vessel that was both durable and cost-effective to manufacture. The structure was welded to ensure an even spread of pressure within the vessel whilst the use of stainless steel made the structure more durable and suitable for long-term sustained usage.