New hydrogen storage tank for IAAPS

PLANS for a new tank to store liquid hydrogen at an engineering research and innovation centre in Emersons Green have been unveiled.

The new cryogenic tank at IAAPS on the Bristol & Bath Science Park would be able to store 7,000 litres or 490kg of liquid hydrogen, to be used in the centre’s research and development of new ways of powering vehicles, ships and aircraft.

Bath University, which owns IAAPS, has applied for planning permission for the new tank, which would store the fuel at an extremely low temperature: hydrogen condenses at -253C, just over 20 degrees above ‘absolute zero’ or 0 Kelvin.

The £70 million research centre produces its own ‘green’ hydrogen on site, using electricity to separate it from oxygen in water, and already has one storage tank.

Architects DKA said there was a need to expand the centre’s infrastructure to accommodate the work on new technologies being carried out.

They said the tank would be surrounded by a 3m (9ft 10in) tall protective fire wall and a 22m (72ft) tall venting flue to take any flammable hydrogen vapour away from the existing building’s ventilation systems.

Building the tank’s concrete base will require some young trees and shrubs previously planted as part of the centre’s landscaping to be transplanted elsewhere on the site.

Agents Jones Lang LaSalle said the 490kg capacity of the tank was well below the two-tonne threshold requiring special hazardous substance consent.

They told South Gloucestershire Council: “The development proposals for the liquid hydrogen storage tank will expand the existing research, innovation and business service capabilities at IAAPS and specifically develop sustainable propulsion technologies to aerospace and other industries, accelerating net zero emissions targets.”

The agents said funding for the new tank has been secured through the West of England Combined Authority’s Green Recovery Fund to provide the power needed for “zero emission” advanced propulsion technologies, especially “net zero flight”.

The IAAPS application includes a letter of support from Tim Hope of aerospace engineering firm GKN, who is in charge of a £54m programme aiming to “decarbonise the aviation sector” by developing a liquid hydrogen propulsion system for aircraft.

He said: “Our organisation intends to use the proposed IAAPS hydrogen storage to undertake validation and testing of a variety of complex hydrogen aircraft propulsion systems for several years.

“This proposal will undoubtedly accelerate not just progress towards IAAPS’ net zero targets but IAAPS’ capability in working with organisations such as GKN to deliver the next generation of innovative sustainable powertrain technologies.

“This will have far-reaching impact in reducing the global reliance on carbon in the aerospace propulsion sector and beyond to other sectors.”

The plans can be viewed on the council’s planning website by searching for application P24/01288/F.