Open technology operations for hydrogen systems

Online Editor

How open technology leads to the optimisation of hydrogen systems and a shortening of development cycles.

The urgency to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is growing across industries, especially in the automotive sector, due to tightening environmental regulations. For many OEMs, CO2 reduction has thus become a strategic necessity. Adopting an open technology strategy is essential for transitioning to zero-emission mobility. Hydrogen, as a flexible and sustainable option, offers the possibility of an effective decarbonisation of various industries. Its applicability in both fuel cell and hydrogen combustion engine applications makes it versatile for various uses. Yet, this adaptability necessitates tailored system and component designs to meet application-specific needs already during development.

Poppe + Potthoff (P+P), a company founded in 1928 in Werther, Germany, originally focused on precision steel tubes production, has evolved to offer such customisable hydrogen solutions. Maintaining its commitment to precision and customer needs, P+P has expanded its product portfolio over the years. Leveraging the skills of 1,600 global employees and its leadership in diesel component technology, P+P has successfully adapted its extensive material, development, and manufacturing expertise to innovate in hydrogen, providing advanced product and system solutions.

TOPAQ systems enable safe and efficient H2 routing from the tank to the fuel cell or H2 engine

P+P’s hydrogen (H2) products are designed for fluid management in various applications, focusing on safety-critical components such as On-Tank Valves (OTV), H2 pipework, H2 rails/Parallel Charging Units (PCU), High Pressure Regulation Units (HPRU), and Thermal Pressure Relief Devices (TPRD). Adopting a holistic approach, P+P not only designs and manufactures these components in-house but also extends its offerings to system-level solutions. Through the development of its modular hydrogen supply system, named ‘TOPAQ’, P+P ensures all components are precisely harmonised and tailored to meet specific customer needs. These systems facilitate safe, reliable, and efficient hydrogen routing from tank to fuel cell or hydrogen combustion engine, providing application-optimised architectures for both mobile and industrial applications. The modular design of TOPAQ systems delivers benefits beyond the product level.

Material expertise

Poppe + Potthoff has leveraged its material expertise to develop ‘PPH2’, a material tailored for hydrogen component production. Traditional components are often made from austenitic stainless steel, which requires thicker walls for high-pressure resistance due to its lower strength, leading to increased weight, costs, and CO2 emissions. PPH2, an alloyed quenched and tempered carbon steel enhanced by an inhouse PPSH annealing process, offers high mechanical properties allowing for thinner-walled, lighter, and cost-effective components with reduced CO2 emissions when compared to components made from stainless steel. PPH2 was tested in accordance with DIN EN ISO 11114, ANSI/CSA CHMC 1-2014 and approved for use in hydrogen applications under EU Regulation (EC) No. 79/2009. In a cooperation with the testing institute TÜV SÜD Chemie Service GmbH, Poppe + Potthoff has also been able to have PPH2 tested according to a newly developed testing methodology. The results of this test confirm the successful outcome of previous tests. Poppe + Potthoff independently develops and produces system components such as pipework or rails made of PPH2 for up to 700 bar nominal pressure. Pipework, H2 rails (manifolds), and interfaces made from PPH2 have been certified by an independent testing institute according to EC79 and successfully tested according to the

Test stands for hydrogen component validation

The Poppe + Potthoff group also offers the in-house development and construction of test stands for various applications. These test rigs can be used in research & development to constantly benchmark manufacturing processes and H2 component quality. Hence, components must undergo endurance tests under extreme pressure pulsations and temperature changes. The test stands allow for flexible solutions while simulating diverse conditions and environmental changes. Alongside pressure cycle test rigs, as well as burst and leak test solutions, P+P also offers a 1050 bar gas leak test system for hydrogen component development. The rig enables the use of nitrogen, helium, as well as a moulder gas hydrogen blend of 95/5. Poppe + Potthoff itself uses these test stands during the development of its hydrogen components and systems. The analysis of data gained during product testing allows for a continuous optimisation of hydrogen systems and a shortening of development cycles.

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