WO2016019316A1 - Hydrogen gas storage tank with supporting filter tube(s) - Google Patents

Hydrogen gas storage tank with supporting filter tube(s)

Info

Publication number
WO2016019316A1
WO2016019316A1 PCT/US2015/043254 US2015043254W WO2016019316A1 WO 2016019316 A1 WO2016019316 A1 WO 2016019316A1 US 2015043254 W US2015043254 W US 2015043254W WO 2016019316 A1 WO2016019316 A1 WO 2016019316A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
hydrogen gas
shell
tank
conformable
filter
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2015/043254
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Joong-kyu LEE
Original Assignee
Alternative Fuel Containers, Llc
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60KARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PROPULSION UNITS OR OF TRANSMISSIONS IN VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PLURAL DIVERSE PRIME-MOVERS IN VEHICLES; AUXILIARY DRIVES FOR VEHICLES; INSTRUMENTATION OR DASHBOARDS FOR VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COOLING, AIR INTAKE, GAS EXHAUST OR FUEL SUPPLY OF PROPULSION UNITS, IN VEHICLES
    • B60K15/00Arrangement in connection with fuel supply of combustion engines or other fuel consuming energy converters, e.g. fuel cells; Mounting or construction of fuel tanks
    • B60K15/03Fuel tanks
    • B60K15/03006Gas tanks
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60KARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PROPULSION UNITS OR OF TRANSMISSIONS IN VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PLURAL DIVERSE PRIME-MOVERS IN VEHICLES; AUXILIARY DRIVES FOR VEHICLES; INSTRUMENTATION OR DASHBOARDS FOR VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COOLING, AIR INTAKE, GAS EXHAUST OR FUEL SUPPLY OF PROPULSION UNITS, IN VEHICLES
    • B60K15/00Arrangement in connection with fuel supply of combustion engines or other fuel consuming energy converters, e.g. fuel cells; Mounting or construction of fuel tanks
    • B60K15/03Fuel tanks
    • B60K2015/03236Fuel tanks characterised by special filters, the mounting thereof
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60KARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PROPULSION UNITS OR OF TRANSMISSIONS IN VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PLURAL DIVERSE PRIME-MOVERS IN VEHICLES; AUXILIARY DRIVES FOR VEHICLES; INSTRUMENTATION OR DASHBOARDS FOR VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COOLING, AIR INTAKE, GAS EXHAUST OR FUEL SUPPLY OF PROPULSION UNITS, IN VEHICLES
    • B60K15/00Arrangement in connection with fuel supply of combustion engines or other fuel consuming energy converters, e.g. fuel cells; Mounting or construction of fuel tanks
    • B60K15/03Fuel tanks
    • B60K2015/03309Tanks specially adapted for particular fuels
    • B60K2015/03315Tanks specially adapted for particular fuels for hydrogen
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F17STORING OF DISTRIBUTING GASES OR LIQUIDS
    • F17CVESSELS FOR CONTAINING OR STORING COMPRESSED, LIQUEFIED OR SOLIDIFIED GASES; FIXED-CAPACITY GAS-HOLDERS; FILLING VESSELS WITH, OR DISCHARGING FROM VESSELS, COMPRESSED, LIQUEFIED, OR SOLIDIFIED GASES
    • F17C11/00Use of gas-solvents or gas-sorbents in vessels
    • F17C11/005Use of gas-solvents or gas-sorbents in vessels for hydrogen
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F17STORING OF DISTRIBUTING GASES OR LIQUIDS
    • F17CVESSELS FOR CONTAINING OR STORING COMPRESSED, LIQUEFIED OR SOLIDIFIED GASES; FIXED-CAPACITY GAS-HOLDERS; FILLING VESSELS WITH, OR DISCHARGING FROM VESSELS, COMPRESSED, LIQUEFIED, OR SOLIDIFIED GASES
    • F17C2201/00Vessel construction, in particular geometry, arrangement or size
    • F17C2201/01Shape
    • F17C2201/0147Shape complex
    • F17C2201/0157Polygonal
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F17STORING OF DISTRIBUTING GASES OR LIQUIDS
    • F17CVESSELS FOR CONTAINING OR STORING COMPRESSED, LIQUEFIED OR SOLIDIFIED GASES; FIXED-CAPACITY GAS-HOLDERS; FILLING VESSELS WITH, OR DISCHARGING FROM VESSELS, COMPRESSED, LIQUEFIED, OR SOLIDIFIED GASES
    • F17C2201/00Vessel construction, in particular geometry, arrangement or size
    • F17C2201/05Size
    • F17C2201/056Small (<1 m3)
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F17STORING OF DISTRIBUTING GASES OR LIQUIDS
    • F17CVESSELS FOR CONTAINING OR STORING COMPRESSED, LIQUEFIED OR SOLIDIFIED GASES; FIXED-CAPACITY GAS-HOLDERS; FILLING VESSELS WITH, OR DISCHARGING FROM VESSELS, COMPRESSED, LIQUEFIED, OR SOLIDIFIED GASES
    • F17C2205/00Vessel construction, in particular mounting arrangements, attachments or identifications means
    • F17C2205/03Fluid connections, filters, valves, closure means or other attachments
    • F17C2205/0302Fittings, valves, filters, or components in connection with the gas storage device
    • F17C2205/0341Filters
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F17STORING OF DISTRIBUTING GASES OR LIQUIDS
    • F17CVESSELS FOR CONTAINING OR STORING COMPRESSED, LIQUEFIED OR SOLIDIFIED GASES; FIXED-CAPACITY GAS-HOLDERS; FILLING VESSELS WITH, OR DISCHARGING FROM VESSELS, COMPRESSED, LIQUEFIED, OR SOLIDIFIED GASES
    • F17C2270/00Applications
    • F17C2270/01Applications for fluid transport or storage
    • F17C2270/0165Applications for fluid transport or storage on the road
    • F17C2270/0168Applications for fluid transport or storage on the road by vehicles
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02EREDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E60/00Enabling technologies or technologies with a potential or indirect contribution to GHG emissions mitigation
    • Y02E60/30Hydrogen technology
    • Y02E60/32Hydrogen storage
    • Y02E60/321Storage of liquefied, solidified, or compressed hydrogen in containers
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02PCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES IN THE PRODUCTION OR PROCESSING OF GOODS
    • Y02P90/00Enabling technologies with a potential contribution to greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions mitigation
    • Y02P90/45Hydrogen technologies in production processes

Abstract

A conformable hydrogen gas storage tank includes a shell defining a tank interior, a hydrogen storage material contained in the tank interior, and one or more filter tubes disposed within the tank interior. Each of the filter tubes includes an internal flow passage for directing a bulk flow hydrogen gas and is constructed such that hydrogen gas is allowed to diffuse between the internal flow passage and the tank interior outside of the filter tube. Additionally, the one or more filter tubes are constructed to support the tank shell against outwardly-directed forces resulting from pressure within the tank interior.

Description

HYDROGEN GAS STORAGE TANK WITH SUPPORTING FILTER TUBE(S)

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application number 62/031,646 filed on July 31, 2014, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The technical field of this disclosure relates generally to a tank for storing hydrogen gas and, in particular, to a tank for storing hydrogen gas on-board a motor vehicle.

BACKGROUND

Hydrogen gas is one of a number of promising alternative fuels being investigated as a replacement for traditional petroleum-based energy sources consumed by motor vehicles such as gasoline and diesel fuel. Hydrogen gas is generally cleaner burning than traditional petroleum-based gasoline and diesel fuels and, thus, is better for the environment. One challenge encountered with the use of such an alternative fuel gas, however, is how to store a sufficient amount of hydrogen gas on-board a motor vehicle so that reasonable driving distances can be achieved between tank fill-ups. To this end, a number of storage approaches are typically considered when attempting to satisfy mobile on-board vehicle hydrogen gas storage needs. These approaches include storing hydrogen gas in a compressed state, a solid state, and to a lesser extent a liquid state.

Hydrogen gas is typically stored in a compressed state (compressed hydrogen gas or CHG) at a pressure that ranges from 300 bar to 750 bar in order to obtain an adequate energy density for an expected end use. The solid state storage of hydrogen gas, on the other hand, typically involves reversibly charging hydrogen gas through chemical uptake or adsorption into a hydrogen storage material such as a metal hydride or a complex metal hydride like various known alanates and amides. Storing hydrogen gas in this way can achieve an energy density within a confined tank space comparable to compressed hydrogen gas but at a much lower pressure of 100 bar or less. The absorption/chemical uptake of hydrogen gas into a hydrogen storage material is an exothermic process while the release of hydrogen gas from the storage material is an endothermic process.

A design consideration that factors into the commercial demand and viability of on-board hydrogen gas storage tanks that utilize a hydrogen storage material— and all vehicle fuel tanks for that matter— is "conformability." The concept of tank conformability relates to the flexibility of the tank structure and how easily it can be adapted to fit the available packing requirements across many different vehicle platforms. The hydrogen gas storage tanks employed to date— for both compressed and solid state hydrogen gas storage— have largely been shaped as cylinders or spheres and are oftentimes made of thick and/or heavy materials. These tank constructions have been used to resist the forces exerted by the associated pressures from inside the tanks. But cylindrically- and spherically- shaped storage tanks are generally considered to be quite non-conformable since they do not always satisfy packaging requirements demanded in motor vehicles and/or they are unable to fully utilize the space designated for the tank on a vehicle platform.

As such, there exists a need for a hydrogen gas storage tank that not only stores a sufficient quantity of hydrogen gas to enable acceptable driving distances between fill-ups, but is also conformable to many different types of vehicle platforms. A hydrogen gas storage tank that possesses such attributes would simplify the integration of hydrogen gas into motor vehicles— especially passenger cars and trucks— as a source of power for operating and propelling the vehicle either alone or in combination with other power sources such as, for example, traditional petrol-based fuels (e.g., gasoline or diesel fuel) and lithium ion batteries. And, practically speaking, the flexibility and design freedom to customize the size and shape of the hydrogen gas storage tank to fit individual vehicle packaging requirements would also make hydrogen gas technologies a more economically attractive option for motor vehicle applications.

SUMMARY

A conformable hydrogen gas storage tank is disclosed for storing hydrogen gas in a solid state. The storage tank includes a shell that defines a tank interior, a hydrogen storage material located within the tank interior, and one or more filter tubes. The hydrogen storage material can be charged with hydrogen gas by chemical uptake or adsorption depending on the chemical structure and properties of the storage material. For example, the hydrogen storage material may include a metal hydride and/or a complex metal hydride such as sodium alanates, lithium alanates, and amides, which primarily store hydrogen gas by way of chemical uptake whereby hydrogen is dissociated and stored as a hydride. As another example, the hydrogen storage material may include a metal-organic-framework (MOF), which primarily stores hydrogen gas by way of adsorption. The use of a MOF as the hydrogen storage material presents good long term thermodynamic performance over the course of many charging/release cycles, but may require the storage tank to be outfitted with a cryogenic jacket to support a useable hydrogen gas storage capacity.

The one or more filter tubes in the hydrogen gas storage tank are permeable to hydrogen gas and are disposed within and through the hydrogen gas storage material inside the tank interior. Each of the filter tubes defines a flow passage along which hydrogen gas can travel and further includes openings that permit hydrogen gas to diffuse into and out of filter tubes so that hydrogen gas can pass between the flow passages of the filter tubes and the tank interior. When more than one filter tube is employed, the various filter tubes may form part of a larger gas transport system that conveys hydrogen gas into and out of the storage tank. In this way, during filling of the tank, the incoming hydrogen gas can be more readily charged and stored in the hydrogen storage material, and any excess heat generated by the hydrogen gas charging process can be captured and removed from the tank. Moreover, each of the filter tubes are hermetically coupled to the tank shell to support the shell against outwardly-directed forces resulting from pressure exerted from within the tank interior. Because of this support against the internal pressure forces, the hydrogen gas storage tank can be designed to more readily satisfy packaging demands and weight requirements that are oftentimes imposed by automotive manufacturers and that exist in other industries.

The filter tubes can have a multi-piece construction or a single-piece construction. Multi-piece examples include filter tubes with a structural wall and a membrane or a mesh structure carried by the structural wall. Single-piece examples include filter tubes with only a structural wall, only a membrane, or only a mesh structure. Whatever the construction, the structural wall has openings in the form of small holes, slits, or some other gas-navigable openings through which hydrogen gas can diffuse. Similarly, the membrane, if used, is hydrogen gas permeable, and the mesh structure, also if used, has openings defined by interconnecting strands, perforations, or the like to render it hydrogen gas permeable. The filter tubes are thus able to direct a flow of hydrogen gas through their respective gas flow passages while allowing some of the hydrogen gas to diffuse out of their flow passages and into the tank interior and vice versa.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a conformable hydrogen gas storage tank including a cryogenic insulating jacket (only partially depicted) that may be useful in some implementations;

Figure 2 is a partial cut-away view of the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank depicted in Figure 1 , showing some internal components of the tank, and also showing a cryogenic insulating jacket (only partially depicted) that may be useful in some implementations;

Figure 3 is a sectional view of the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank depicted in Figure 1 taken at arrows 3-3;

Figure 4 is a sectional view of an embodiment of a filter tube that can be used with the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank depicted in Figure 1 ;

Figure 5 is a sectional view of another embodiment of a filter tube that can be used with the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank depicted in Figure 1 ;

Figure 6 is a sectional view of yet another embodiment of a filter tube that can be used with the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank depicted in Figure 1 ; Figure 7 is an enlarged view of a filter tube that includes a heating element;

Figure 8 is a sectional view of another embodiment of a conformable hydrogen gas storage tank in which a cryogenic insulating jacket is not shown but may of course be used if desired, and wherein the hydrogen gas storage tank additionally includes a tensioned wire;

Figure 9 is an enlarged view taken at outline 9 in Figure 8 of an embodiment of a guide structure; Figure 10 is a partial cut-away view of an embodiment of a conformable hydrogen gas storage tank in which a cryogenic insulating jacket is not shown but may of course be used if desired; and

Figure 11 is a segmented perspective view of an embodiment of a filter tube that can be used with the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank depicted in Figure 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Several preferred embodiments of a hydrogen gas storage tank are disclosed that address challenges associated with storing hydrogen gas aboard a motor vehicle— namely, the sometimes demanding and even inflexible packaging and weight requirements specified for the tank. The hydrogen gas storage tank is thus adapted to store useable quantities of hydrogen gas in a solid state at relatively low operating pressures compared to compressed hydrogen gas storage. As will be described in more detail below, the hydrogen gas storage tank is "conformable" in the sense that its shape is not limited to cylinders and spheres, though these shapes are still acceptable possibilities, and instead its shape can include generally planar portions and surfaces like those in a polygonal three-dimensional shape that better accommodate packaging and spacing needs in vehicle applications. Furthermore, thinner and lighter materials can be used to make the hydrogen gas storage tank, if desired, since the tank is designed to better resist internal forces exerted by the hydrogen gas stored inside the tank. The term "generally planar" as used herein signifies that a dimensionally exact flat surface is not necessitated, and instead denotes that such a surface more closely resembles a planar surface than a cylindrical or a spherical surface.

The hydrogen gas storage tank is useful for storing hydrogen gas that is deliverable to a hydrogen gas-consuming device (not shown) in order to generate power for propelling and operating the motor vehicle. One particular hydrogen gas-consuming device that can be fed with hydrogen gas in a motor vehicle application is a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. Hydrogen gas, which is a well known diatomic fuel gas having the chemical formula H2, is consumed at the anode of a PEM fuel cell to produce protons and electrons. The protons migrate through a polymer electrolyte membrane while the electrons are directed through an external circuit where they produce an electrical current that can be used for motor vehicle power applications. The protons and electrons eventually reunite at the cathode of the PEM fuel cell with oxygen to produce water. In many instances, when the hydrogen gas-consuming device is a PEM fuel cell, the hydrogen gas that is stored in the hydrogen gas storage tank has a purity of at least 99.0 wt.% H2.

A schematic embodiment of the hydrogen gas storage tank is illustrated in Figures 1-3 and is identified by reference numeral 10. The hydrogen gas storage tank 10 can be installed and supported on chassis of a motor vehicle and is constructed to supply hydrogen gas to the associated hydrogen gas-consuming device as needed. The hydrogen gas storage tank 10 can have different designs, shapes, and components depending upon the capacity, packaging, and weight specifications of the particular motor vehicle onto which the tank 10 will be installed. But, in general, and as shown here, the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank 10 includes a shell 12, a hydrogen storage material 14, one or more filter tubes 16, and connecting pipes 20.

The shell 12 provides a physical structure that houses the hydrogen storage material 14 and supports the other components of the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank 10. The shell 12 defines a tank interior 22 and may be constructed of any suitable material including of a metal, such as stainless steel or an aluminum alloy, or a fiber-reinforced polymer, such as carbon-reinforced nylon, or some other material of suitable strength and durability. A few particularly preferred materials that may be used to construct the shell 12 include SUS304 grade stainless steel or AA5083-0 aluminum alloy. The material selected for construction of the shell 12 can be lighter and/or thinner than those which have been previously used for conventional hydrogen gas storage tanks since, as will be further described below, the filter tubes 16 support and structurally reinforce the shell 12 so that the structural demands placed on the inherent material properties (e.g., strength) of the shell 12 are ultimately lessened. The shell 12 includes walls W that define multiple openings 24 through which the filter tubes 16 are received into the tank interior 22. The openings 24 can be formed during manufacture of the shell 12, they can be drilled into the walls W after the shell 12 has been made or assembled into its final shape, or they can be formed another way depending on the material of the shell 12. When hydrogen gas is stored within the shell 12, outwardly-directed forces F (Figure 3) act against the shell walls W from inside the shell 12 due to the pressure of the stored hydrogen gas contained within the tank interior 22. The forces F can impart bending stresses, hoop stresses, and other stresses on the walls W. As will be described below in greater detail, the filter tubes 16 are hermetically coupled to the walls W in a way that counteracts the forces F imparted to the walls W by the stored hydrogen gas, and they do so to such an extent that one or more walls W of the shell 12 can include generally planar portions or surfaces and need not necessarily be cylindrically- and spherically- shaped. The walls W can also have a thickness that is rather small compared to conventional practice. For example, the thickness of the walls W can range from about 3 mm to about 10 mm, or from about 3 mm to 5 mm. Other thickness dimensions are of course possible and may depend on the material used for the shell 12 and the overall size and shape of the shell 12.

In the schematic illustration of the hydrogen gas storage tank 10 presented in Figures 1-3, the shell 12 is shown having a rectangular shape with six generally planar walls W. The walls W intersect one another along edges E that meet at corners C. The edges E and corners C of the shell 12 are preferably rounded for improved resistance against bending stresses experienced at those regions of the shell 12 due to the pressure of the hydrogen gas held inside the tank 10, which can range from about 10 bar to about 100 bar. While the overall shape and profile of the shell 12 can vary from what is shown here, the shell 12 may nonetheless have a three-dimensional shape with any number of generally planar and non-planar walls or walls that have generally planar portions or surfaces. For example, as shown in Figure 10, the shell 12 may have walls BW, TW, SW that include generally planar portions or surfaces, with the bottom and top walls BW, TW curving slightly into the side walls SW. The option to employ walls with at least generally planar portions or surfaces in the construction of the shell 12— which allows the shell 12 to assume any of a wide variety of shapes beyond the cylindrical and spherical shapes that have conventionally been used— allows the tank 10 to be designed in a way that best conforms to the space allotted for the tank 10 on a particular vehicle platform.

The hydrogen storage material 14 is contained within the tank interior 22 in the available space outside of the filter tubes 16, as represented in Figures 2-3, and serves to augment the hydrogen gas storage capacity of the storage tank 10. The hydrogen storage material 14 comprises any material that is capable of reversibly storing hydrogen gas in a solid state through any type of storage mechanism (e.g., adsorption, chemical uptake, etc.), some examples of which are discussed in more detail below. Additionally, the hydrogen storage material 14 may be incorporated into the tank interior 22 in any suitable physical structure including granules, pellets, and/or powder, to name but a few options.

The hydrogen storage material 14 may, in one instance, have the ability to reversibly store hydrogen gas as a hydride through chemical uptake in order to increase the energy density of the gas within the tank interior 22 such that it compares favorably to compressed hydrogen gas but at a much lower pressure of 100 bar or less. Materials that can store hydrogen gas through chemical uptake include metal hydrides and complex metal hydrides. One specific example of a suitable metal hydride is lithium hydride (LH). Complex metal hydrides may include various known alanates and amides. Some specific complex metal hydrides include sodium alanate (NaAlH4), lithium alanate (LiAlH4), magnesium nickel hydride (Mg2NiH4), and lithium amide (LiNH2). Moreover, in addition to those materials that rely on chemical uptake to store hydrogen gas as a hydride, other materials exist that can adsorptively store hydrogen gas, including metal-organic-frameworks (MOFs) and porous polymer networks (PPNs) that have an affinity for hydrogen gas. A metal-organic-framework is a high surface area coordination polymer having an inorganic-organic framework, often a three-dimensional network, that includes metal ions (or clusters) bound by organic ligands. A porous polymer network is a covalently-bonded organic or organic-inorganic interpenetrating polymer network that, like MOFs, provides a porous and typically three-dimensional molecular structure. Any of a wide variety of MOFs and PPNs may be used as some or all of the hydrogen storage material 14. Some notable MOFs and PPNs that may be used in the hydrogen storage material 14 are disclosed in R.J. Kuppler et al., Potential applications of metal-organic frameworks, Coordination Chemistry Reviews 253 (2009) pp.3042-66, D. Yuan et al, Highly Stable Porous Polymer Networks with Exceptionally High Gas-Uptake Capacities, Adv. Mater. 2011, vol. 23 pp. 3723-25, W. Lu et al, Porous Polymer Networks: Synthesis, Porosity, and Applications in Gas Storage/Separation, Chem. Mater. 2010, 22, 5964-72, and H. Wu et al, Metal- Organic Frameworks with Exceptionally High Methane Uptake: Where and How Methane is Stored?, Chem. Eur. J. 2010, 16, 5205-14. Of course, a wide variety of MOFs and PPNs that can adsorptively store hydrogen gas are commercially available, and many others are constantly being researched, developed, and brought to market.

In some instances, depending at least in part on the composition of the hydrogen storage material 14, the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank 10 may additionally include a cryogenic insulating jacket 90 that surrounds and encases the shell 12. Certain MOFs, for example, are unable to adsorb sufficient quantities of hydrogen gas at room temperature. To increase the adsorptive hydrogen gas storage capacity of the MOF, the hydrogen gas may be supplied into the tank interior 22 through the filter tubes 16 (as described below) at a temperature below 100°K (-173.15°C) and in particular at a temperature between 77°K (-196.15°C) and 100°K. The cryogenic insulating jacket 90 is useful in conjunction with such low temperatures in the tank interior 22 since any gains in adsorptive hydrogen gas storage capacity achieved through low temperatures on the order of 100 °K and below will quickly be lost if heat from the surrounding ambient environment is allowed to warm up the tank interior 22. If that occurs, the resultant loss in hydrogen gas from the hydrogen storage material 14 could go unused and be wasted, especially if the hydrogen gas-consuming device is not drawing any hydrogen gas from the tank 10.

The cryogenic insulating jacket 90 is preferably comprised of an outer jacket shell 92 that defines a space between itself and the tank shell 12, and insulation 94 that is situated within the space defined between the tank shell 12 and the outer jacket shell 92. The outer jacket shell 92 may be constructed from a low thermal conductivity material, such as fiberglass, and the space between the outer jacket shell 92 and the tank shell 12 may be vacuum evacuated to a pressure below 1.3 x 10" mbar (10~4 Torr). The insulation 94 that is set within the vacuum evacuated space may be any of a wide variety of insulation materials that are typically used in cryogenic applications. One notable example of a suitable material for the insulation 94 is laminated multi-layer insulation, which basically includes many layers of reflective radiation shield materials stacked in parallel and separated by low thermal conductivity spacers to keep the shield materials close but not touching. Other examples of suitable materials for the insulation 94 may include perlite packing, aerogel packing, foam, etc. When the cryogenic insulating jacket 90 is implemented, it preferably fully covers the connecting tubes 20 (described below) that may located about an exterior of the tank shell 12 in order to prevent the flow of heat into the tank interior 22 to the greatest extent possible, as shown in Figures 1-3. Such full coverage is not mandatory, though, as the connecting tubes 20 may, in some embodiments, protrude through the jacket. The filter tubes 16 can extend into and through the hydrogen storage material 14 and preferably extend across the tank interior 22 between two portions of the shell 12. The filter tubes 16 are multi-functional in that they (1) transport a flow of hydrogen gas into and out of the tank interior 22 of the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank 10, (2) enable the diffusion of hydrogen gas between the inside of the filter tube 16 and the tank interior 22 located outside of the filter tube 16, (3) enables the transfer of heat H between the inside the filter tube 16 and the tank interior 22 located outside of the filter tube 16, and (4) support the shell 12 against the outwardly-directed forces F acting from the tank interior 22. Because of the ascribed multi-functionality of the filter tubes 16, the hydrogen gas storage tank 10 is conformable in nature and may also be filled with hydrogen gas relatively quickly. The hydrogen gas storage tank 10 can be filled quickly since the filter tubes 16 provide good hydrogen gas distribution while also providing a mechanism for removing heat, which is generated by the exothermic charging of the hydrogen gas, out of and away from the tank 10. Referring specifically now to Figures 2-3, the filter tubes 16 are arrayed through the shell 12 and through the hydrogen storage material 14 for adequate exchange of hydrogen gas with all parts of the hydrogen storage material 14. There can be any number of filter tubes 16 installed in the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank 10 that crisscross one another. The exact number of filter tubes 16 provided may depend on the shape and size of the tank 10, the expected magnitude of the forces F experienced, and the desired pitch between adjacent filter tubes 16. In the illustrated hydrogen gas storage tank 10, each filter tube 16 extends from a portion of one wall W to a portion of another wall W, with the portions of the two walls W being situated opposite from each other. In the example of a spherically-shaped shell and a cylindrically-shaped shell, however, one or more of the filter tubes 16 could extend between two different portions of the same wall.

The exact design and construction of each filter tube 16 can vary among different applications. As illustrated in Figure 4, for instance, the filter tube 16 includes a structural wall 80 that defines an internal flow passage 26 extending from an inlet 28 to an outlet 30, and may further include a membrane 18 carried by the structural wall 80. Hydrogen gas can flow within and along the flow passage 26 between the inlet 28 and the outlet 30 without having to directly contact and navigate the hydrogen storage material 14. Moreover, the structural wall 80 and the membrane 18 together alloy hydrogen gas to diffuse between the flow passage 26 defined in the inside of the filter tube 16 and the tank interior 22 defined on the outside of the filter tube 16 where the hydrogen storage material 14 is contained. Thus, when adding hydrogen gas into the tank 10 during a filling event, a bulk flow of hydrogen gas G can travel along the flow passage 26, and some hydrogen gas G' can diffuse from within the flow passage 26 to outside of the filter tube 16 where it can be stored in a solid state by the hydrogen storage material 14. At the same time, the structural wall 80 and the membrane 18 also allow heat H that is generated during the exothermic hydrogen gas charging process to be transferred from the tank interior 22 to inside the filter tube 16 where it can be captured and carried away by the bulk hydrogen gas flow G moving along the flow passage 26.

The structural wall 80 is preferably cylindrical in shape and marked with openings in the form of small holes 32 to facilitate the passage of some hydrogen gas G' through the wall 80. The holes 32 can be regularly and uniformly spaced along and around the structural wall 80 between the inlet 28 and the outlet 30, as shown. In some examples, the flow passage 26 can have a diameter ranging from about 3 mm to about 10 mm or from about 5 mm to about 30 mm, the holes 32 can have a diameter ranging from about 10 μιη to about 2 mm, and the structural wall 80 can have a thickness from about 1.0 mm to about 5.0 mm. Still, in other examples, the flow passage 26 and the holes 32 could have diameters of different values, and the structural wall 80 may have a different thickness, depending on the size of the hydrogen gas storage tank 10 and on properties of the hydrogen storage material 14, among other possible factors. The structural wall 80 can be made of the same material as the shell 12, like the metal and plastic materials set forth above, or it could be composed of some other material that has suitable strength. The membrane 18 carried by the structural wall 80 provides a finer filtration medium compared to the openings in the structural wall 80. The membrane 18 is preferably a micro- or ultra- filtration material or film that is hydrogen gas permeable so that hydrogen gas can diffuse through the membrane 18 and into or out of the filter tube 16. A network of interconnected pores preferably traverses a thickness of the membrane 18, which typically ranges from about 20 μιη to about 2 mm. While the pores are sized to allow diffusion of hydrogen gas between the flow passage 26 of the filter tube 16 and the tank interior 22 that houses the hydrogen storage material 14, their size may also be tailored to preclude pieces of the hydrogen storage material 14 above a certain size from entering the flow passage 26. For instance, the pores of the membrane 18 may be sized to exclude particles of the hydrogen storage material 14 down to a certain size that may result from fragmentation— which can be caused over time by temperature, pressure, and load cycling— from passing through the membrane 18. In some examples, an average pore size of about 10 μιη to about 50 μιη may be suitable. The membrane 18 need not, however, necessarily prevent all traces of the hydrogen storage material 14 from passing into the filter tube 16 from the tank interior 22 as it may be acceptable for tiny particles of the hydrogen storage material 14 to enter the flow passage 26 without measurably impacting the effectiveness of the hydrogen gas storage tank 10 and the filter tubes 16. A number of micro- or ultra- filtration materials exist and are known in the art to be hydrogen gas permeable. Of these many choices, the membrane 18 is preferably a hydrophilic zeolite such as ZSM-5, which can help reduce water contamination of the hydrogen storage material 14, or an organic polymer-based membrane. The membrane 18 can be carried by the structural wall 80 in different ways. Referring to Figure 4, for example, the membrane 18 is overlapped around the outside of the structural wall 80. Here, the membrane 18 surrounds all sides of the structural wall 80 and spans longitudinally over the extent of the wall 80 exposed to the hydrogen storage material 14. In another embodiment, the membrane 18 can be carried within the structural wall 80 on an inside circumferential surface of the wall 80 and within the flow passage 26, or it may be sandwiched between the structural wall 80 and another component of the filter tube 16. The membrane 18 can be appended to the structural wall 80 by any known technique.

The filter tube 28 may assume other constructions that render it hydrogen gas permeable besides what has been previously described. For example, in other embodiments, the filter tube 16 may include additional materials or discrete layers besides the structural wall 80 and the membrane 18. Or it may include the structural wall 80 alone without the membrane 18 in cases where the structural wall 80 itself can suitably preclude pieces of the hydrogen storage material 14 above a certain size— e.g., pieces that are above some predetermined size that preferably but not necessarily lies between 10 μιη to 50 μι— from entering the flow passage 26 and obstructing flow in the filter tube 16. Additionally, the filter tube 16 may include the membrane 18 alone without the structural wall 80 in cases where the membrane 18 can suitably preclude pieces of the hydrogen storage material 14 above a certain size from entering the flow passage 26 and obstructing flow in the filter tube 16. In such instances, the thickness of the membrane 18 may have to be increased to account for the absence of the structural wall 80. Whether the filter tube 16 includes both the structural wall 80 and the membrane 18, or just one of those components, the filter tube 16 need not necessarily prevent all traces of the hydrogen storage material 14 from entering the flow passage 26, as previously explained.

Figure 11 depicts another embodiment of the filter tube 16. Here, the structural wall 80 has openings in the form of one or more elongated slits 33. In different examples, there could be an elongated slit 33 spanning axially along the structural wall 80, as illustrated by the lowermost slit 33 in Figure 11, or there could be multiple elongated slits 33 arranged uniformly or randomly around the structural wall 80, as illustrated by the uppermost slits 33 in Figure 11, or there could be a combination thereof as well as openings of other shapes. The slitted structural wall 80 could constitute the filter tube 16 by itself, or, as partially shown in Figure 11, a mesh structure 19 could be provided over the structural wall 80. The mesh structure 19 is depicted broken away in Figure 11 to expose the structural wall 80 underneath, but could span completely across the structural wall 80 to fully surround the wall 80. In the embodiment illustrated, the mesh structure 19 is made of metal, and could be composed of carbon steel or stainless steel such as SUS304 stainless steel. The mesh structure 19 may be a wire or woven mesh that defines gas-navigable openings, and it may function similarly to the membrane 18 described above in that it permits hydrogen gas diffusion while at the same time precluding pieces of the hydrogen storage material 14 above a certain size— e.g., pieces that are above some predetermined size that preferably but not necessarily lies between 10 μιη to 50 μι— from entering the flow passage 26 and obstructing flow in the filter tube 16. In still another embodiment, the mesh structure 19 could constitute the filter tube 16 by itself without the structural wall 80. To facilitate the diffusion of hydrogen gas, the mesh structure 19 can have openings defined by interconnected wires or woven metal or it can have openings in the form of perforations. If the mesh structure 19 defines openings of less than 50 μιη in diameter, for example, then the mesh structure 19 may be sufficient to permit hydrogen gas diffusion between the flow passage 26 and the tank interior 22 while also excluding pieces of the hydrogen storage material 14 above a certain size from entering into the flow passage 26. If, however, the openings of the mesh structure 19 are deemed to be too large, the membrane 18 described above may be carried on the inside or outside of the mesh structure 19 to preclude the unwanted entry of pieces of the hydrogen storage material 14 into the flow passage 26. If a metal mesh structure is used as all or part of the filter tube 16, commercial providers of the structure could include the company Haver & Boecker of OELDE Germany, or Fratelli Mariani S.p.A. of Cormano Italy, as well as other companies. As previously mentioned, the filter tubes 16 contribute to the structural integrity of the shell 12 by helping to counteract the forces F imparted to the walls W from the tank interior 22 as a result of hydrogen gas storage. To do so, the filter tubes 16 are hermetically coupled at their ends to the shell 12, which may be at generally planar portions of the same wall W or different walls W of the shell 12. The filter tubes 16 can be hermetically coupled to the shell 12 by different ways, techniques, components, and processes. The term "couple" as used herein, does not necessarily mean a mechanical interconnection between components like a bolt and nut threaded together, though it can mean this in some embodiments, and instead means direct or indirect engagement between components such as surfaces kept in contact with each other. Likewise, the term "engagement" as used herein, encompasses direct engagement between components, as well as indirect engagement between components such as where two components do not physically contact each other but nonetheless transmit forces to each other by way of another component like a washer situated between the two components. These are mere examples of what the terms mean in some embodiments, and their definitions are broader and embody all of the embodiments detailed in this description. The hermetic coupling of the filter tube 16 to the shell 12 can be achieved in numerous ways. In the embodiment depicted in Figure 4, for example, the filter tube 16 has a first coupling 34 and a second coupling 38. The first coupling 34 includes a flange 36 and the second coupling 38 includes a fitting 40. The flange 36 preferably has a circular shape that extends radially outwardly from a circumference of the structural wall 80. The flange 36 can be unitary with the structural wall 80 or it can be a discrete piece attached to the wall 80 by welding, adhesion, a mechanical interlock, or some other way. The fitting 40 on the opposite end of the filter tube 16 is preferably a nut that has inner threads engaged with, and tightened down on, outer threads disposed on the exterior of a threaded end of the structural wall 80. The filter tube 16 in this embodiment is installed by inserting its externally threaded end through one of the openings 24 in one of the walls W, and then through the other opening 24 in the same or different wall W. An inner surface 42 of the flange 36 engages and is seated against an outer surface 44 of its respective wall W. Similarly, the fitting or nut 40 is tightened down on the outer threads of the threaded end of the structural wall 80 of the filter tube 16, which protrudes past an outer surface 82 of its respective wall W, so that an inner surface 84 of the fitting 40 engages and is seated against that outer wall surface 82. The engaged surfaces 42, 44 and 82, 84 in the embodiment of Figure 4 therefore make surface-to-surface abutment. And though not illustrated, one or more o-rings or other gaskets can be disposed against the outer shell surfaces 44, 82 to help seal the couplings 34, 38 of the filter tube 16 with the shell 12. A cured epoxy sealant could also be disposed between the filter tube 16 and the shell 12 and/or one or more welds could be performed at the first and/or second couplings 34, 38 to help seal the filter tube 16 and the shell 12 and to further achieve a permanent fixation between the two components. If permanent fixing is not performed, and it does not necessarily have to be, the filter tube 16 can be decoupled and uninstalled from the shell 12 if necessary. In this way, the filter tubes 16 can be serviced and repaired or replaced during the useful lifetime of the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank 10.

Figure 5 illustrates another way in which the filter tube 16 can be hermetically coupled to the shell 12. Here, as shown, the second coupling 38 of the filter tube 16 has a metal-worked portion 46 formed by a metalworking process. The metal-worked portion 46 is a flared terminal end of the structural wall 80 that would otherwise extend through the opening 24 of its respective wall W past the outer surface 82 of the wall W. The metal-worked portion 46 is formed after insertion of the filter tube 16 through the shell 12. Specifically, the metal-worked portion 46 is formed by a metal spinning process that forcibly curls the terminal end of the structural wall 80 back into engagement with the outer surface 82 of the wall W. At its other end, the filter tube 16 has the same flange 36 as previously-described with reference to Figure 4. Since the metal spinning process is performed after the filter tube 16 has been inserted through the openings 24 in the walls W, the embodiment of Figure 5 provides a somewhat permanent fixing between the filter tube 16 and shell 12. And again, here, o-rings or gaskets or other sealing elements can be included to help seal the filter tube 16 with the shell 12 at the first and second couplings 34, 38.

Figure 6 illustrates yet another way in which the filter tube 16 can be hermetically coupled to the shell 12. Here, in this embodiment, both of the first and second couplings 34, 38 have fittings 40 in the form of a t-fitting. The t- fittings include a first stem 48, a second stem 50, and a flange 52 that extends radially outwardly from and between the first and second stems 48, 50, with each of those features cooperating to define an internal passage 54 that extends through the t-fitting to communicate with the flow passage 26 of the filter tube 16. The first stem 48 has outer threads that are engaged with, and tightened down on, inner threads disposed on the interior of the structural wall 80 of the filter tube 16. When so disposed, an inner surface 58 of the flange 52 engages and is seated against the outer surface 44, 82 of its respective wall W, which, here, amounts to surface-to-surface abutment. Moreover, the second stem 50 has outer threads that are engaged by inner threads of a nut 56, which is tightened down on the second stem 50. The filter tube 16 can be decoupled and uninstalled from the shell 12 for servicing, if needed, by unscrewing the various components of the first and second couplings 34, 38 and removing the filter tube 16 from the shell 12. And again, as before, o-rings or gaskets or other sealing elements can be included to help provide a seal between the shell 12 and filter tube 16.

Still, in other embodiments not expressly shown and described here, the filter tubes 16 can be hermetically coupled to the shell 12 in other ways. Other coupling techniques can include other components like additional fittings, parts, gaskets, seals, washers, rivets, and clamps; can include other processes like press-fitting, welding, adhesion, curing, staking, and soldering; or can include a combination of these coupling components and processes, as well as those detailed elsewhere in this description. The filter tubes 16 can also be installed in the shell 12 by other techniques not expressly mentioned here such as, for example, by installing the tubes 16 from the interiors of two disjoined shell halves that are later joined together into the shell 12 by welding or heat fusion.

In addition to transporting hydrogen gas into and out of the common tank interior 22, and permitting the cross-movement of diffused hydrogen gas G' and heat H between the flow passage 26 of the filter tube 16 and the interior 22 of the tank 10 during a tank filling event, the filter tubes 16 support the shell 12 against the forces F that result from the pressures experienced in the tank interior 22. The filter tubes 16 counteract the forces F acting on the walls W of the shell 12 from the interior 22 so that the walls W do not unacceptably bow, crack, or otherwise deform. This functionality is provided in large part by the hermetic coupling of the filter tubes 16 and their engagement with the walls W of the shell 12, and is only enhanced as the number of filter tubes 16 installed in the hydrogen gas storage tank 10 increases. For these reasons, especially in hydrogen gas storage tanks that are designed for a motor vehicle, as many as ten to one hundred filter tubes 16 may be included in the tank 10 to support the shell 12 against outwardly-directed forces F from the tank interior 22.

While the hermetic couplings between the filter tubes 16 and the shell 12 can take different configurations and therefore can engage and provide their shell reinforcing functionality in different ways, in the embodiment of Figure 4, for example, the inner surface 42 of the flange 36 engages and abuts the outer surface 44 of the wall W and accordingly supports the wall W against the forces F acting on that portion of the wall W. At the other end of the filter tube 16 at the second coupling 38, the inner surface 84 of the nut 40 similarly engages and abuts the outer surface 82 of the wall W and supports that portion of the wall against the forces F. In the embodiment of Figure 5, the inner surface 42 of the flange 36 abuts the outer surface 44 of its wall W, and the metal-worked portion 46 abuts the outer surface 82 of its wall W, and again the result is that the two walls W are supported against the forces F acting from the tank interior 22. As yet another example, in the embodiment of Figure 6, the inner surfaces 58 of the two flanges 52 engage and abut the outer surfaces 44, 82 of their respective walls W and support the walls W against the forces F. Still, in other embodiments, a flange or other component embedded inside of and completely enveloped by the wall W could constitute the engagement that supports the wall against the forces F, among other possibilities. The connecting pipes 20 are used to fluidly connect the filter tubes 16 so that hydrogen gas can be carried serially through multiple filter tubes 16. In particular, each connecting pipe 20 is routed between a pair of filter tubes 16 about an exterior of the shell 12 in order to transport hydrogen gas between the flow passages 26 of the filter tubes 16. Referring now back to Figures 1-4, enough connecting pipes 20 are supplied to fluidly connect all of the filter tubes 16. Together, the connecting pipes 20 and the filter tubes 16 constitute a hydrogen gas transport system that, during tank refilling, receives the bulk flow of hydrogen gas G from an inlet 60 to the tank 10, routes the hydrogen gas G back-and- forth through the interior 22 of the shell 12 for good exposure of diffused hydrogen gas G' to all parts of the hydrogen storage material 14, and delivers the hydrogen gas flow G to an outlet 62 for removal out of the tank interior 22 and away from the tank 10. The connecting pipes 20 do not include openings and thus do not permit hydrogen gas diffusion through their walls like the filter tubes 16; instead, each connecting pipe 20 has a solid body that defines a passage 64 for establishing fluid communication with the flow passages 26 of the filter tubes 16 it connects, as shown best in Figure 4. The walls that make up the solid body of the connecting pipes 20 can have a thickness that ranges from about 0.5 mm to about 1 mm, and they can provide the connecting pipes 20 with a diameter to an outer surface that ranges from about 3 mm to about 10 mm or from about 5 mm to about 30 mm. The connecting pipes 20 can be made from the same material as the structural wall 80 of the filter tubes 16 or they can be composed of a different material such as brass or some other suitable metal. The connecting pipes 20 can be connected to the filter tubes 16 by different ways, techniques, components, and processes. The exact connection may depend on the materials selected for the pipes 20 and filter tubes 16, among other factors. In the embodiment of Figure 4, for example, the connecting pipes 20 are connected to the filter tube 16 by way of a press-fit in which the pipes 20 are forcibly inserted inside of the flow passage 26 of the filter tube 16 to an overlapping extent sufficient to maintain their connection and preclude gas leakage between the pipes 20 and tube 16. To facilitate the press-fit, the inserted pipe ends can be immersed in liquid nitrogen to temporarily physically shrink the pipe ends before insertion, followed by natural expansion of the pipe ends after insertion as they heat back up to ambient temperature. Alternatively, the press-fit connection can be facilitated by spring-like structures disposed on the pipe ends that are displaced inwardly upon insertion and that exert an outward force against the flow passage 26 of the structural wall 80. As another example, which is shown in Figure 6, the connecting pipes 20 can be connected to the filter tube 16 by tightening down the nut 56 over and to capture a flange 68 at the end of the pipes 20. Yet in other embodiments the connection could include other components like additional fittings, parts, gaskets, seals, o-rings, washers, rivets, and clamps; can include other processes like welding, adhesion, curing, staking, and soldering; or can include a combination of these connection components and processes, as well as those detailed above. Referring now to Figure 7, in any of the embodiments described thus far, but especially where the hydrogen storage material 14 is a metal hydride and/or a complex metal hydride, a heating element 70 can be located at the filter tubes 16 in order to periodically emit heat to the filter tubes 16 and beyond upon activation. The heating element 70 can take different forms including the resistance wire shown in Figure 7, which can be made of fabric-insulated or un-insulated tungsten. Here, the resistance wire is wound helically inside of the flow passage 26 and against an interior surface of the structural wall 80. Other arrangements are indeed possible, however, such as winding the wire 70 around the outside of the structural wall 80— preferably if the membrane 18 is carried on the inside of the structural wall 80— or disposing the wound heating wire 70 within the structural wall 80. Moreover, the resistance wire 70 can be a single wire routed through all of the filter tubes 16 and through all of the connecting pipes 20 with a single electrical connection to a power source, or multiple resistance wires can be routed through the different filter tubes 16 and connecting pipes 20 with separate electrical connections to a power source.

The heat from the heating element 70, when emitted, can be used to help release hydrogen gas from the hydrogen storage material 14 when a boost in the hydrogen gas release rate is needed to meet the loading demand of the hydrogen gas-consuming device. As another capability, the heat obtained from the heating element 70 could be used to induce a degassing operation that rids the filter tubes 16, most notably the membrane 18 if present, and the hydrogen storage material 14 of accumulated impurities such as water, carbon dioxide, lubricants, and other unwanted build-up that can be driven off at elevated temperatures of 150°C and above. Such degassing can be performed as needed to help ensure that the hydrogen gas storage capacity of the hydrogen storage material 14 is maintained. The degassing operation can be performed at periodic frequencies (e.g., annually) or during routine maintenance of the accompanying vehicle. Referring now to Figures 8-9, an optional tensioner assembly can be equipped to the conformable hydrogen gas storage tank 10 to further support the shell 12 against the forces F acting outwardly on the shell walls W from the tank interior 22. In the embodiment shown here, the tensioner assembly includes a tensioner device 72 and a wire 74 having adequate tensile strength. The wire 74 can be composed of a metal material, such as a steel, or a more flexible material such as a carbon-based material, a polymer, or an aramid. The wire 74 is routed multiple times through the interior 22 and along the outside of the shell 12. Here, the wire 74 is fed through dedicated openings in the shell 12 that are different from the openings 24 that receive the filter tubes 16. The tensioner device 72 may be any known device— such as a clamp or vice— that maintains tension and tautness in the wire 74. The tensioner device 72 is preferably mounted to the shell 12 and might only be employed when the wire 74 is composed of the more flexible materials, since the tensioner device 72 can help maintain tension of those materials. Still, the tension in the more flexible materials can be maintained by a tying arrangement of the wire 74, and without the tensioner device 72. Where the wire 74 is composed of the metal materials, on the other hand, the tensioner device 72 need not be employed and instead the wire 74 can be brought to a tensioned state and subsequently maintained taut by welding the wire 74 to the shell 12 if the shell 12 is also composed of a metal.

The optional tensioner assembly can be used to supplement the structural functionality of the filter tubes 16. In use, the wire 74 is routed into and out of the shell 12 and held tight in a tensioned state by the tensioner device 72 to counteract and endure the forces F acting from the interior 22 of the shell 12. In order to avoid sharp bends as the wire 74 is tightly drawn, guide structures 76 can be attached to the exterior of the shell 12, as illustrated in Figure 9. The guide structures 76 direct the wire 74 over a comparatively blunted turn. This helps the wire 74 retain tension along its entire length and also alleviates stresses on the wire 74 at each bend into and out of the shell 12.

The above description of preferred exemplary embodiments and related examples are merely descriptive in nature; they are not intended to limit the scope of the invention as defined by the claims that follow. Each of the terms used in the appended claims should be given its ordinary and customary meaning as understood by a person of skill in the art unless specifically and unambiguously stated otherwise in the specification.

Claims

8316-3018-002 CLAIMS
1. A conformable hydrogen gas storage tank comprising:
a shell defining a tank interior;
a hydrogen storage material located within the tank interior; and at least one filter tube extending through the tank interior, the filter tube being permeable to hydrogen gas and including a first hermetic coupling at a first portion of the shell and a second hermetic coupling at a second portion of the shell, the filter tube supporting the first and second portions against outwardly-directed forces resulting from pressure within the interior of the shell by way of engagement between the first coupling and the first portion of the shell and between the second coupling and the second portion of the shell.
2. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, wherein the filter tube extends between a first generally planar portion of the shell and a second generally planar portion of the shell.
3. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, wherein the at least one filter tube includes a plurality of filter tubes that extend through the tank interior, each of the filter tubes having a first hermetic coupling at one portion of the shell and a second hermetic coupling at another portion of the shell, each of the filter tubes supporting the shell against outwardly-directed forces resulting from pressure within the tank interior.
4. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 3, further comprising a plurality of connecting pipes, each of the connecting pipes being connected to a pair of filter tubes about an exterior of the shell.
5. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 4, further comprising an inlet and an outlet, wherein the plurality of filter tubes and the plurality of connecting pipes constitute a hydrogen gas transport system that receives hydrogen gas from the inlet, guides the hydrogen gas through the tank interior and the hydrogen storage material via the plurality of filter tubes, guides the hydrogen gas about an exterior of the shell via the plurality of connecting pipes, and delivers the hydrogen gas to the outlet for removal from the tank interior.
6. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, further comprising a heating element located at the filter tube that emits heat upon activation of the heating element.
7. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, further comprising a wire extending through a first opening in the shell and through a second opening in the shell and extending through the tank interior, the wire supporting the shell against outwardly-directed forces resulting from pressure within the tank interior.
8. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 7, further comprising a tensioner device for maintaining tension in the wire through the first and second openings.
9. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, wherein the first and second hermetic couplings can be decoupled such that the filter tube can be removed from the tank upon decoupling of the first and second hermetic couplings.
10. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, wherein the first hermetic coupling engages an outer surface of the shell at the first portion and the second hermetic coupling engages an outer surface of the shell at the second portion.
11. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, wherein the first coupling, the second coupling, or each of the first and second couplings includes a flange that engages an outer surface of the shell, and the flange supports the shell against outwardly-directed forces resulting from pressure within the interior of the shell.
12. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, wherein the first coupling, the second coupling, or each of the first and second couplings includes a fitting that engages an outer surface of the shell, the fitting being a discrete component from the filter tube and supporting the shell against outwardly-directed forces resulting from pressure within the interior of the shell.
13. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, wherein the first coupling, the second coupling, or each of the first and second couplings includes a metal-worked portion formed into engagement with an outer surface of the shell, the metal-worked portion supporting the shell against outwardly-directed forces resulting from pressure within the interior of the shell.
14. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, wherein the first coupling includes a flange that engages an outer surface of the shell at the first portion, and wherein the second coupling includes a fitting that engages an outer surface of the shell at the second portion, the fitting of the second coupling being a discrete component from the filter tube.
15. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, wherein the filter tube includes a structural wall with a flow passage for directing hydrogen gas therethrough, the structural wall having at least one opening therein for allowing hydrogen gas diffusion between the flow passage and into the tank interior where the hydrogen gas storage material is contained.
16. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 15, wherein the filter tube includes a membrane carried by the structural wall, the membrane being permeable to hydrogen gas.
17. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 1, wherein the filter tube includes a mesh structure with a plurality of openings therein that render the mesh structure permeable to hydrogen gas.
18. A conformable hydrogen gas storage tank, comprising:
a shell defining a tank interior;
a hydrogen storage material contained within the tank interior; a plurality of filter tubes disposed within the tank interior, each of the filter tubes having a flow passage for guiding hydrogen gas through the filter tube, each of the filter tubes having at least one opening that permits hydrogen gas to diffuse through the filter tube for exchange between the flow passage of the filter tube and the tank interior where the hydrogen storage material is contained, and each of the filter tubes being hermetically coupled to the shell and supporting the shell against outwardly-directed forces exerted from the tank interior; and
a plurality of connecting pipes located about an exterior of the shell, each of the connecting pipes extending between filter tubes and having a passage for guiding hydrogen gas from one filter tube to another filter tube.
19. A conformable hydrogen gas storage tank, comprising:
a shell defining a tank interior;
a cryogenic insulating jacket that surrounds and encases the shell; a hydrogen storage material contained within the tank interior, the hydrogen storage material being comprised of a metal-organic-framework material; and
a plurality of filter tubes disposed within the tank interior, each of the filter tubes having an internal flow passage for guiding hydrogen gas through the filter tube and being permeable to hydrogen gas such that hydrogen gas can diffuse between the flow passage and the tank interior where the hydrogen storage material is contained, each of the filter tubes further being hermetically coupled to the shell and supporting the shell against outwardly-directed forces exerted from the tank interior.
20. The conformable hydrogen gas storage tank set forth in claim 19, further comprising:
a plurality of connecting pipes, each of the connecting pipes extending between, and fluidly communicating with, a pair of filter tubes, the connecting pipes extending between the connected filter tubes about an exterior of the shell.
PCT/US2015/043254 2014-07-31 2015-07-31 Hydrogen gas storage tank with supporting filter tube(s) WO2016019316A1 (en)

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