The safe and efficient storage of H2 on-board future aircraft is the essential enabler of H2 technologies and will be one of the most complex aerospace engineering challenges that the industry has ever faced.
COCOLIH2T (COmposite COnformal LIquid H2 Tank) project, led by Collins Aerospace, is proposing a disruptive concept focused on reducing the impact of the tank’s weight and volume within an aircraft, while ensuring system safety.
COCOLIH2T will not only develop a safe composite and vacuum insulated LH2 tank for the aviation sector but has the ambition to go beyond by designing and manufacturing a conformal tank through novel fabrication technologies enabling a reduction of more than 60% in production energy consumption, at least 50% in production time leading to significantly lower manufacturing costs.
Additionally, the proposed structure of the tank, based on a multi-material thermoplastic composite concept, is intended to facilitate aircraft structural integration to support overall system weight reduction compared with conventional tank configurations.
COCOLIH2T’s overall system will be demonstrated at TRL4 by the end of the project.
COCOLIH2T started in February 2023 and will run for 36 months.
COCOLIH2T is a project funded by the Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (JU) under the Horizon Europe programme. The project was selected after successful submission to the call HORIZON-JTI-CLEANH2-2022-1 and more specifically the topic HORIZON-JTI-CLEANH2-2022-03-07 “Development of specific aviation cryogenic storage system with a gauging, fuel metering, heat management and monitoring system” (Pillar 3.1 Hydrogen end uses – Transport applications of the Clean Hydrogen JU Scientific Research Innovation Agenda or SRIA).
COCOLIH2T is a Research and Innovation Action (RIA).
The global aviation industry has committed to reduce global net aviation carbon emissions by 50% by the year 2050, with the European Commission pursuing a more ambitious goal of a 75% reduction in CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre.
Alternative fuels such as hydrogen (H2) are seen as playing a central role in a zero-emission future for aviation, but the level of penetration for H2 will depend heavily on scientific and technological breakthroughs to overcome the challenges posed by H2 powered aircraft.
Improvements to existing state-of-the-art solutions includes a better utilization of the avallarle space for fuel storage, adequate insulation techniques to minimize heat leak, continued safe operations, and a weight reduction through low-weight materials, such as thermoset or thermoplastic composites, all while addressing those materials’ inherent challenges (permeability, microcracking, thermal fatigue).
COCOLIH2T consortium led by Collins Aerospace is proposing a disruptive concept focused on reducing the impact of the tank’s weight and volume within an aircraft, while ensuring safe system functionality.
The key challenge that COCOLIH2T will tackle is the generation of a feasible and affordable design of a conformal variable section box-shape tank while minimizing the boil-off leakages wherever possible. COCOLIH2T’s overall system will be demonstrated at TRL4 by 2025.
COCOLIH2T main objective is to design, develop, and manufacture a disruptive, safe, and lightweight LH2 storage system for the aviation sector with increased volumetric efficiency. The Project foresees the use of composite lightweight material, while designing a conformal LH2 storage tank that includes subsystems for its safe functioning. The consortium will focus on the design and development of a lightweight LH2 tank including liner and insulation. The tank will be integrated with its sub-systems (metering, gauging, SHM, overpressure, thermal management, boil off, sloshing, vaporising) to be ready for validation of its operation.
To achieve its goal COCOLIH2T will complete and deliver the following seven objectives:
- Objective 1: MATERIAL SELECTION AND MATURATION
Down-select and mature the right materials for tank walls, Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) and permeation barrier
- Objective 2: DISRUPTIVE VESSEL CONCEPT and DESIGN
Design and develop a composite conformal LH2 tank, including thermal and pressure management
- Objective 3: TANK MANUFACTURING
Manufacture the composite and conformal LH2 tank
- Objective 4: TANK SUBSYSTEMS
Design and develop a tank refuelling, metering, gauging, and gas leak-detection system for safe system functioning
- Objective 5: TANK HEALTH MONITORING SYSTEM
Design and develop a lightweight and robust tank health monitoring system capable of working in harsh environment of the tank over its lifecycle and automated inspection system
- Objective 6: STORAGE SYSTEM INTEGRATION AND TESTING
Integrate and demonstrate the entire LH2 tank system
- Objective 7: TANK SAFETY AND LIFE CYCLE EVALUATION
Understand life cycle and safety impact of tank design decisions and develop a suitable inspection method.
COCOLIH2T will set up an Expert External Advisory Board (EEAB) to provide the consortium with additional external guidance and feedback along the project execution in an effort to maximize the project outcomes, while minimizing the risks. The EEAB will involve key stakeholders in the decision chain as early as possible. This will comprise of diverse industry members that will be announced in the coming months. Meetings will be organized at least yearly with the EEAB to assess technical progress, results, and compliance with requirements.
- Demonstration of the construction of a scalable tank design enabling the cost-efficient growth of a tank up to 150 kg and beyond.
- Development of a vacuum insulated, low-pressure, variable section box-shaped LH2 tank for a potential installation within the aircraft empennage or beneath the passenger floor.
- Development of a conformable multi-material tank concept, manufactured by automated and out of autoclave (OoA) production technologies.
- Development of a set of subsystems and procedures to assure the safe functioning of the system and being able to perform real-time monitoring of its state.
- Evaluation of the suitability of various SHM capabilities including structural monitoring, health state awareness, damage detection and location for monitored structures, shape sensing and centre-of-gravity calculations.
- Successful experiments on the two demonstrators.
- Realisation of a safety analysis, a durability analysis and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
The COCOLIH2T consortium brings together 11 partners organisations from 7 countries.
NOVOTECH joins the Collins-led Consortium (COCOLIH2T) to develop new thermoplastics technology for the liquid hydrogen tanks necessary to power hydrogen propulsion architectures in future more sustainable aircraft.
NOVOTECH will conduct an analysis of the aircraft certification framework (CS25 with elements of CS23 and their related means of compliance) to define proper tank requirements such as (but not limited to) crashworthiness and ignition prevention as well as proper load case definition (maneuvering, slosh and vibration loads, crash induced loads). Production of lamina, coupons, elements/details will be carried out by NOVOTECH with aim to identify and setup the best chain of materials, manufacturing processes and related process parameters to be used to produce the final demonstrators.
NOVOTECH will manufacture the final full-size tank according to the design specifications that will be agreed with other partners. The aim is to produce a tank demonstrator with a full automated, fast and affordable production process made possible by the combination of a coextrusion process and AFP ISC. With regard the ISC AFP, the key point will be to ensure a good consolidation between the different layers of tapes without degradation of the thermoplastic materials.
Project duration: 01.02.2023 – 31.01.2026