Pressure Vessels in Composite Industry

Last few decades, composites use is getting more and more common in the pressure vessel industry. New types of pressure vessels have been developed that use composites in various ways. They are used in the transportation industry, the energy industry and the marine industry. They can be designed to hold both liquids and gases.

What are the types of Pressure Vessel?

First, there was Type I pressure vessels. These vessels were made of only metals such as aluminium and steel. Type II pressure vessels improve these designs by utilizing a composite hoop wrap for structural integrity. Type III pressure vessels have full composite coverage of the inner metallic liner. These vessels have both helical winding and hoop winding.

Type IV pressure vessels do not have metallic liners instead they utilize a polymer liner such as high-density polyethene. They can be made of either glass fiber or carbon fiber and epoxy resin. These vessels require a particular winding pattern that is suitable for the operating pressures. The newest technology in pressure vessels is the Type V pressure vessels. They are only made of a filament wound composite layer with no liners.

Advantages of Carbon Fiber

The main advantage of the composite is the weight reduction. The kilowatts energy per kilogram of the vessel increases from Type I bringing the lowest per kilogram to Type V being the most efficient. In the transportation industry, their lower weight increases fuel efficiency. They are most preferred in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Due to recent regulatory changes for internal combustion engines, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are expected to get a market share in the industry. Moreover, as the supply for manufactured metals gets harder, Type IV and Type V use a minimal amount of steel and aluminium, so they become a more reasonable option.

As carbon fiber and glass fiber prices decrease, composite pressure vessels are becoming more viable as an option for mass-produced pressure vessels. It is expected that Type I is going to be obsolete in the future and the composite pressure vessels will be the norm.