Fast Response Flow Control Valves for Gaseous Hydrogen Fueling of Fuel Cell Vehicles

Kalsi Engineering (KEI) is proud to announce that we have been awarded funding through the DOE SBIR (Department of Energy — Small Business Innovation Research) program to develop “Fast Response Flow Control Valves for Gaseous Hydrogen Fueling of Fuel Cell Vehicles.” The SBIR funding is very competitive and approximately 3% to 8% of all submitted SBIR proposals receive funding.

For nationwide use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to be possible, especially when considering passenger vehicles, substantial hydrogen fueling infrastructure would need to be developed to facilitate interstate travel. Hydrogen fueling stations are considerably more expensive to build and operate compared to other fueling/recharging stations. Even if the required infrastructure were in place, the cost of hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicles and expensive hydrogen fuel would continue to be a deterrent.

An alternative strategy to benefit from hydrogen fuel cell technology is to focus on mission restricted vehicles that follow local routes and operate around a central location. This includes local delivery vehicles, city and county vehicles such as school buses, public transportation, and waste disposal trucks, which travel substantial distances but remain in close proximity to a local station. These vehicles can rely on much fewer fueling stations.

Refueling is performed by transferring hydrogen from an array of high-pressure tanks to the vehicle tank. To maintain target flow rates, a staged sequencing of supply tanks is used. Switching between tanks causes a substantial increase in pressure in the supply line and a corresponding increase in the flow rate when controlled by a slow responding control valve. Figure 1 shows the instantaneous valve cycling required to maintain the average target flow rate in response to the pressure spikes due to switching upstream supply tanks. KEI is developing a fast-response flow control valve to address these challenging flow conditions due to supply tank switching.

KEI’s commitment to innovation is driving us to develop groundbreaking solutions for gaseous hydrogen fueling of fuel cell vehicles. We will report more as the project progresses. Congratulations to the consulting team for securing this project!

Instantaneous valve cycling required to maintain average target flow rate in response to switching upstream supply tanks