SAG develops first LH2 cryogenic tank system for trucks

Future technology made in Austria brings more climate protection and sustainability to the transport sector

Experts and vehicle manufacturers agree that hydrogen will be an important alternative fuel in the near future. However, the storage of hydrogen – especially in liquid form – poses a number of technical challenges. The Salzburg Aluminium Group is now using its technological leadership in the field of cryo-tank solutions for LNG-powered trucks (liquid natural gas) to develop the first truck cryo-tank system for liquid hydrogen (LH2). One of the biggest challenge SAG’s engineers are facing is the extremely low temperature of minus 250 degrees Celsius at which liquid hydrogen must be stored. This and also the requirements for size and weight of the tank system require technical excellence. The development is already so far advanced that prototyping will start in a few months and test phases will begin. Based on the results obtained, the LH2 cryotank made by SAG will go into series production from 2027 and will make a valuable contribution to CO2 reduction in the transport sector.

Hydrogen is regarded as the fuel of the future and – when produced via electrolysis using green electricity – offers a CO2-neutral alternative to diesel fuel. During the conversion of hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy, which takes place by means of a fuel cell, only water and heat are produced as “by-products”. Since only a relatively short range can be achieved in truck transport with compressed gaseous hydrogen, OEMs are very interested in tank solutions for liquid hydrogen. With the cryo-tank solution developed by SAG, it will be possible to achieve around twice the range of gaseous H2 in the future. Trucks equipped with two liquid hydrogen tanks of maximum size registered in Europe should be able to cover up to 1000 kilometers after a full tank. The decisive factor here is the high energy density of the LH2, with which such long ranges can be achieved.

“The low space requirement of the LH2 tank systems which we have developed enables a high transport volume and causes an extremely low payload loss. As a prototype for the LH2 tank system, a double-walled, vacuum-insulated stainless steel tank is being developed. It offers the highest possible hydrogen capacity in the existing installation space. A unique valve system designed for the extremely low temperatures will enable safe refuelling and reliable supply of hydrogen to the fuel cell,” says Johannes Winklhofer, head of SAG’s R&D department.

CEO Karin Exner-Wöhrer adds: “Due to the EU legislation, which stipulates that car manufacturers must equip around 50 percent of the vehicles produced with zero-emission drives by 2030, there is great interest in a future-oriented storage solution for liquid hydrogen. We can make full use of our know-how in the cryo tank sector, which we bring with us from LNG tank production, and open up a new business field that holds great potential for the future – both for SAG and for climate protection.”

SAG: Global player with a local footprint in nine countries and at 12 locations

The Salzburger Aluminium Group is an Austrian family-owned company with 1100 employees worldwide at 12 locations in Europe, Mexico, the USA and Canada. The headquarters of the company, which goes back to Salzburger Aluminium founded in 1898, is in Lend/Salzburg. Other SAG locations in Austria are Schwarzach/Pongau and Vienna. SAG has subsidiaries in Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Mexico, the USA and Canada. As market leader for aluminium tanks for trucks, SAG is a global supplier to all well-known OEMs. Other products include lightweight components, air reservoirs, compressed air tanks and special components for the commercial vehicle, railway and special vehicle industries. The company is technology leader in the field of cryogenic tanks for LNG & LH2 (liquid natural gas & liquid hydrogen) and was the first company to bring Rheocasting (special semi-solid casting process for aluminium) to series maturity. The export quota is over 90 percent. The company supplies major truck and car manufacturers as well as OEMs in the rail and special vehicles sectors. The turnover of the entire group of companies in 2020 was around 155 million euros.

As part of the GreenTech Awards 2020/21, SAG was awarded a special prize as “Leading Innovator”. This was prompted by the company’s numerous patents for innovations that make a significant contribution to climate protection.

Press contact:

SAG Salzburger Aluminium Group

Andrea Pfennigbauer

+43 664 60650 2043