Automated Dynamics will be leading a $1.5 Million program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help advance fuel-cell and hydrogen technologies. Specifically, the Offices of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Fuel Cell Technologies Office have funded Automated Dynamics to advance its patented electrofusion pipe coupling technology. Helping to develop a hydrogen delivery infrastructure created with composite materials aims to enable early adoption of fuel-cell applications such as fuel-cell electric vehicles.
A recent report released by the Energy Department shows the fuel cell industry is continuing to grow at an unprecedented rate, totaling more than $2.2 billion in sales in 2014. In order to further expand on this emerging market, the Department has announced the investment of more than $20 million in ten projects. These projects will accelerate American innovation in clean energy technologies by supporting research and development advancements that will reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and cut harmful carbon emissions.
The full press release can be found here.
An Innovative Solution
The EF coupler, an innovative high-pressure pipe joint, would be used for the simple joining of fiber-reinforced composite pipe; providing an unprecedented level of reliability and ease of installation. This is a critical advancement as limitations exist among present technologies. Current reinforced thermoplastic technology involves mechanical compression fittings with unreliable O-rings, and existing EF couplers are not capable of the pressures needed for hydrogen service. This project will provide a more reliable option and extend the benefits of EF couplers to the higher pressures of hydrogen. In addition, because hydrogen is transported at relatively high pressures, the technology will lend to other high-pressure applications such as the transport of oil and gas.
Initial prototypes of the coupler will be designed for testing key factors including bond strength, leakage, burst strength, and fatigue. The ultimate goal of this technology will be to provide a simple, robust, and cost-effective method of joining pipes. This allows for a reliable network of high-pressure hydrogen delivery lines through the use of high-strength plastic composite materials that are resistant to corrosion.
The proposed project activities include the design, development, fabrication and testing of several iterations of the EF coupler. Sub-awardees Savannah River National Laboratory and NOV Fiber Glass Systems add expertise from past programs focused on testing hydrogen pipe couplers. Design, development and fabrication activities would be completed by Automated Dynamics at their industrial manufacturing facilities in Niskayuna, NY.