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Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Lab Hydrogen Storage

Team Photo

Team Members (from left to right): Shaoyang Sun, Edward Lie, Taylor Bryant, Dylan Fitzgerald, Toan Luu

How many African Forest Elephants balanced on a soda can would it take to exceed the 13,000 psi rating on one of our dispensing tanks? ELEVEN AND A HALF!


We are building on and improving the design of the 2014 HEF Design contest winners for the DOE H2-refuel prize competition. We have a provisional patent for a type IV polymer liner. Welcome to the H2 Storage page.

  • INPUT: Liquid hydrogen at 20 K (-423.67 F) and 344.7 kPa (50 psi)
  • OUTPUT: Gaseous hydrogen at 233 K (-40.27 F) and 89.63 – 117.2 MPa (13 – 17 kpsi)

Flow Chart

  • MUSTS:
    • Meet all applicable standards for competition and safety
    • Store hydrogen in liquid form until it is needed in the dispensing tank
    • Provide temperature and pressure feedback data
    • Relieve pressure as needed to prevent failure
    • Automatically transfer hydrogen from the liquid tank to the dispensing tank


The various types of hydrogen storage tanks are listed below. Chemical storage is not listed as an option for this compeition due to economic restrictions and underdevelopment in the market.

Types of Tanks:

  • Type I:
    • Metal tank (steel/aluminum)
    • Approximate maximum pressure; aluminum: 17.5 MPa (2,540 psi), steel: 20 MPa (2,900 psi)

Steel Hydrogen

  • Type II:
    • Metal tank (aluminum) with filament windings like glass fiber/aramid or carbon fiber around the metal cylinder
    • Approximate maximum pressure; aluminum/glass: 26.3 MPa (3,810 psi), steel/carbon or aramide: 29.9 MPa (4,340 psi)
  • Type III:
    • Tanks made from composite material, fiberglass/aramid or carbon fiber with a metal liner (aluminum or steel)
    • Approximate maximum pressure; aluminum/glass: 30.5 MPa (4,420 psi), aluminum/aramide: 43.8 MPa (6,350 psi), aluminium/carbon: 70 MPa (10,000 psi)
  • Type IV
    • Composite tanks such as carbon fiber with a polymer liner (thermoplastic)
    • Approximate maximum pressure; plastic/carbon: 66.1 MPa (9,590 psi) and up

Composite Tank

  • Type V:
    • Composite tanks such as carbon fiber with no polymer liner needed (thermoplastic)

Hydrogen Storage Safety Standards:

  • Tank Testing:
    • Burst Test: Tank is loaded to a pressure above the rating to identify weak areas (read more about burst tests here)


  • Fatigue test: Tank is loaded and unloaded thousands of times until failure
  • Bonfire Test: Tank is exposed to an open flame

Bonfire test

  • Bullet test: Bullets are fired at the tank

Bullet test

Liquid Hydrogen Storage:

  • Typically stored in a properly rated tank with either vacuum insulation or insulation to prevent heat transfer.
  • Liquid hydrogen must be stored near 20 K (-423.67 F) and are commonly referred to as cryogenic tanks.

Compressed Hydrogen Storage:

  • Most popular method is to use a type IV tank (carbon fiber tank with polymer liner) to withstand pressures of 68.95 MPa (10 kpsi) and above.
  • Type IV tanks are the same type used in on-board vehicle storage.

Hydrogen Storage Tank

Design Specification

The hydrogen tanks need to be able to fit into the container and meet all engineering characteristics and standards. Therefore, we need to build up a House of Quality (HOQ) for the hydrogen tanks to determine the most important characteristics that we need to focus on our future design. On the HOQ of our tank, the column on the left consists of our requirements that we need to consider for our tank, while the top row consists of the engineering characteristics for our tank design upon which we need to focus.

  • Weight/Size:
    • This is the most important characteristic that we need to focus on. The volume of the liquid or gaseous hydrogen that will be stored will depend mostly on this characteristic.
  • Tank Pressure Rating:
    • This characteristic ranked second on our HOQ because the tank pressure always needs to be within specified parameters to ensure safety.
  • Tank Transportability:
    • This characteristic ranked third because in the case that the tanks need to be removed for maintenance, it can be easily removed and transported.
  • Tank Insulation:
    • This characteristic is not as important compared to our other characteristics. To prevent heat transfer from the environment to our liquid tank we can cover our tank with an insulation jacket.
  • The System Cost:
    • This characteristic is the least of our concerns because the system cost is much lower compared to the cost of the manufacturing and materials.

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Design Alternatives

The recommended design will have one liquid tank that will be approximately 750 liters (200 gal). The design will also include two 60 liter (15 gal) dispensing tanks. The liquid tank will be cryogenic rated and will be equipped with an insulation jacket. The dispensing tanks will utilize thermal compression (Cascade Filling) to dispense. All tanks will be equipped with an in-tank regulator.

Recommended Design:

  • Single Cryofab liquid tank with 750 liter (200 gal) capacity and insulation jacket
  • Two type IV Tuffshell dispensing tanks with 60 liter (15 gal) capacity
  •  Pros/Cons:
    • Polymer liner needed
    • Industry leader for automotive applications

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Below are the initial and compounding cost estimates for our subsystem.

  1. The total estimated cost for our subsystem will be between $60,000 – $80,000
  2. Maintenance for the system will include biennial testing and servicing at a cost of $1,000 – $2,000 per test.
  3. The total amount of money that needs to be set aside now to cover these costs for the next ten years at a 6% interest rate is  $4212.40 – $8424.80
  4. Depreciates by $4,550 after 10 years (based off $70,000 base and an iterative depreciation at a 10 year recovery period)

What’s Next?

  • Contact with relevant companies has been initiated, quotes pending
  • Collaboration with other teams to determine proper sizing for fittings and other connections
  • Preliminary CAD designs
  • If you would like to get involved, follow the link here
Washington State University