April 26, 2024
Journal Article

Methods for Estimating Hydrogen Fuel Tank Characteristics


The pressure vessels needed to store hydrogen for next-generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are expected to be a substantial portion of the total system mass, volume, and cost. Gravimetric capacity, volumetric capacity, and cost per kilogram of usable hydrogen are key performance metrics that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) uses to determine the viability of hydrogen fuel cell systems. Research and development related to hydrogen storage systems covers a wide range of potential operating conditions, from cryogenic temperatures to high temperatures (above ambient) and low pressure to high pressure. Researchers at PNNL have developed methods for estimating these key pressure vessel characteristics to support on-board hydrogen storage system design and performance evaluation and to support decision making about DOE’s hydrogen storage system research investments. This article describes the pressure tank estimation methodology that has been used as a stand-alone calculation and has been incorporated into larger system evaluation tools. The methodology estimates the geometry, mass, and material cost of Type I, Type III, and Type IV pressure vessels based on operating pressure and material strength at the system’s operating temperature, using classical thin-wall and thick-wall pressure vessel stress calculations. The geometry, mass, and material cost requirements of the pressure vessel have significant impacts on the total system performance. For example, hydrogen storage materials that can separately achieve a very high hydrogen density can be deemed impractical for use in fuel cell vehicle hydrogen storage systems because the pressure tank containing them is too large, heavy, or expensive. This article describes the design philosophy and analytical process of the tank characteristic estimation methodology, which has been implemented in spreadsheet calculation tools and system level analysis tools used by DOE researchers. Each of the three tank types (Type I, Type III, and Type IV) uses a different analysis methodology with some common elements. This article also provides examples of implementing the methodology to perform parametric studies of all three pressure vessel types. The goal of this article is to present the methodology in sufficient detail that it can be implemented in other hydrogen fuel cell vehicle design and analysis tools.

Published: April 26, 2024


Klymyshyn N.A., K.P. Brooks, and N.P. Barrett. 2024. Methods for Estimating Hydrogen Fuel Tank Characteristics. Journal of Pressure Vessel Technology 146, no. 1:Art. No. 011501. PNNL-SA-183750. doi:10.1115/1.4063884

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