Research Papers: Design and Analysis

Pressure Vessels With Reinforcing Space-Filling Skeletons

[+] Author and Article Information
Mulalo Doyoyo

School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332

Nadia Faure

Department of Mechanics, Ecole Polytechnique, 91128 Palaiseau, France

J. Pressure Vessel Technol 130(3), 031210 (Aug 07, 2008) (11 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2965902 History: Received August 27, 2006; Revised February 26, 2007; Published August 07, 2008

Light-weight high pressure vessels are recently in demand mainly because of the need to replace gasoline engines with hydrogen fuel cells. One of the main problems delaying this transition is our inability to store sufficient hydrogen in automobiles without (1) sacrificing safety and cabin space and (2) achieving the same driving range and performance as gasoline-powered vehicles. While hydrogen is more efficient as a fuel than gasoline and has zero greenhouse gas emissions, it occupies a larger volume and violently explodes in contact with air. Thus, hydrogen tanks are significantly larger and heavier than those of gasoline. Storage of compressed fluids has always relied on round tanks because of their high membrane resistance and low surface-to-volume ratios. Multilayered composite and metal designs are then used to reinforce and reduce their weight. Apparently, the best idea—but still early in its development—is to store hydrogen based on metal hydrides. Nevertheless, we present a new concept of replacing conventional hydrogen tanks with tanks that are internally reinforced by space-filling skeletons or simply with strut/shell networks. This enables designs of lighter, stronger tanks with shapes that can fit into nonfunctional regions of the vehicle to significantly increase storage volume. This approach promises immediate integration with existing storage technologies. Treating the reinforced vessel as joined plates on elastic foundations, we analyze cylindrical and rectangular tanks and show that the idea is more efficient in terms of pressure gain and weight reduction in the latter because large wall deformations favor the skeleton reinforcement. This result validates the skeleton reinforcement idea, and its practicality is discussed.

Copyright © 2008 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

The skeleton reinforcement concept: a thick tank is replaced by an arbitrarily shaped thin tank filled with ultralight strut or shell space fillers (Doyoyo and Mohr (9))

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Figure 2

A schematic demonstrating the skeleton phenomenology: (a) equivalent pressure due to the skeleton and (b) demonstration of strut-pressure effects in a pressurized skeleton

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Figure 8

Effects of the skeleton on the plastic yield intensity in a finite-sized rectangular vessel based on the skeleton foundation analysis

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Figure 9

Effects of the skeleton in a finite-sized rectangular vessel as analyzed using finite element analysis (FEA) on (a) deflections ((i) in nonreinforced vessel and (ii) in reinforced vessel) and (b) stresses ((i) skeleton at 10bars and (ii) skeleton at 70bars)

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Figure 10

Effects of the skeleton on a FEA-analyzed finite-sized rectangular pressure vessel: (a) deflection and (b) plastic yield intensity

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Figure 7

Effects of the skeleton on the (a) bending moment and (b) deflection in a finite-sized rectangular vessel based on the skeleton foundation analysis

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Figure 6

Effects of the skeleton on the (a) deflections and (b) moments for infinitely long rectangular pressure vessels. Note the deformed images (insets) of (i) skeleton-reinforced and (ii) nonreinforced vessels.

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Figure 5

Influence of the reinforcing skeleton on the (a) maximum pressure and (b) weight reduction in an infinite cylindrical vessel following the ASME Code

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Figure 4

Effects of (a) skeleton modulus and (b) tank thickness on the pressure gain coefficient in an infinite cylindrical vessel

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Figure 3

Notations of skeleton-reinforced vessels: (a) reinforced cylindrical vessel, (b) reinforced rectangular vessel, and (c) 3D sketch of a finite-sized rectangular vessel




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