Composites technology company, Cygnet Texkimp has been announced as a technology partner in a £16 million project to develop a hydrogen-powered version of the iconic Ford Transit commercial vehicle.
The FCVGen2.0 project has been created to design, build and trial a small fleet of fuel-cell powered Ford electric Transits which maximise hydrogen storage capacity, and to develop and evaluate a viable form of recycling for end-of-life fuel tank components.
The three-year project is led by global automotive company Ford with joint funding from the UK Government, awarded through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) Collaborative Research and Development programme.
The project aligns with ambitions by the UK Government and industry to build an end-to-end supply chain for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). It is designed to increase the power and range of hydrogen powered light commercial vehicles (LCVs), initially using a low-volume test fleet of eight fuel cell Ford E-Transits, and to prove a business case for their wider rollout. The capability for fuel cell system assembly and vehicle conversion will be built at Ford’s Dagenham Estate in Essex.
Cygnet Texkimp has been named as a technology partner alongside hydrogen powertrain solutions specialist Viritech and powertrain engineering and testing company CamMotive (Cambustion’s EV group), with integrated energy company, bp, and grocery retailer, Ocado Retail, completing the consortium of companies.
Cygnet Texkimp’s role is to optimise the composites recycling machinery and process needed to reclaim high quality composite fibres from hydrogen storage tanks at the end of their useful life and reuse them in new hydrogen vessels or in other applications. The company will focus on further developing its composites reclaiming solution, which incorporates the Deecom fibre recycling process, specifically for hydrogen tanks. It will also provide fibre handling expertise and machinery for the manufacture of carbon overwrapped hydrogen pressure vessels throughout the project.
“We’re delighted to be involved in a project of such significance in the global movement towards net zero and one that showcases the UK as a leading hydrogen economy in terms of capacity, capability and technology,” said Cygnet Texkimp’s Andy Whitham. “Sustainable end-of-life management of hydrogen tanks is a challenge we need to address now, before hydrogen powered vehicles are the norm. By developing technologies that allow efficient reclamation of the high quality composite fibres used in hydrogen tanks, we can create a secure supply of recycled carbon fibre amid a significant global shortage of virgin fibre. This new source of fibre will also mean that important work in the development of vehicle lightweighting materials and methods can continue to advance, despite a finite supply of carbon fibre.
“Our focus is on giving composites a viable second life. In doing so we can proactively reduce their impact on the environment and overcome the problem of materials supply.”