Currently, energy supply is one of the biggest and most important challenges: the energy sector produces approximately two thirds of global CO2 emissions. The expansion of climate-friendly energy generation from renewable sources is crucial for countering climate change. In addition to solar energy, wind power and hydropower, hydrogen technology is becoming increasingly significant in the global energy sector in an effort to reach carbon neutrality and ultimately contribute to climate protection. Both the material and the infrastructure, across the entire hydrogen industry value chain, present new and diverse challenges for materials testing.
Hydrogen has been used as a raw material or fuel in the chemical industry for some time, as it is considered an ideal and flexible energy carrier for the future. It is an elementary component of the pursued energy turnaround, which is why it is suitable for wide use in the industry, traffic, power and heat sectors. Green hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources reduces greenhouse gases and contributes to climate protection.
As the most common element, hydrogen is available in almost unlimited quantities, it is directly usable and can be stored and transported in gas or liquid form. Its very high energy density and usability in bound form makes it an attractive energy carrier, however it is not unproblematic and is fairly demanding when it comes to being handled.
Due to its low density and small molecular cross section, hydrogen diffuses easily and quickly through solid materials. In the case of metallic materials, this leads to hydrogen embrittlement and in turn, to a significant reduction in the strength of the material. Mechanical materials testing is an important component in the characterization and development of new materials that have to function safely and reliably under the influence of hydrogen for a long period of time. Important and safety-critical components are used in the following areas:
- Hydrogen production (e.g. electrolyzers)
- Hydrogen transport (e.g . pipes, valves)
- Hydrogen storage (e.g. liquefied gas, pressure vessels)
- Energy conversion (e.g. fuel cells)
Mechanical materials testing requires precise and specifically adapted testing technology that allows for reliable determination of material characteristic values under direct hydrogen influence, very high pressure, very low temperatures and over very long time periods.
The following application examples show ZwickRoell testing solutions that comprehensively meet the high demands of the hydrogen industry and provide an important contribution to the further development of materials and components.
A lithium-ion battery cell consists of various components and materials, which due to their various functions, are subjected to diverse load applications. In the field of production, materials are therefore subjected to electrochemical, thermal and mechanical stresses throughout the various manufacturing steps in order to comply with such loads. ZwickRoell offers testing solutions for every lithium-ion battery cell, battery module and battery pack requirement.
- Various materials are used: Electrode material made of aluminum and copper film, polymer separators (PE oder PP), graphite or titanate electrode coatings, lithium metal oxide coatings, aluminum-based housing (solid housings or laminated foils), etc.
- Materials are tested in terms of tensile stress, buckling resistance, crack strength, shear strength, sealed seam strength, bond strength, puncture resistance, elasticity, temperature stress or compressive strength. In addition, some components also have to pass function tests such as shear forces at terminals or puncture resistance of safety valves for prismatic cells, or simple verification of the strength of welded seams of current collectors.
- It is important to understand the lithium-ion cell in terms of its performance cycle. Acquisition of the mechanical cell deformation caused by swelling during the charging process plays an important role in the design of the battery cell environment. Additional challenges: Temperature resistance over a wide temperature range (-40 °C up to +120 °C), vibration resistance, cyclical loads and aging processes due to electrochemical influences.