Ford Figures Out How to Make Hydrogen Power Safer and Longer Lasting

By June 21, 2024 3   min read  (492 words)

June 21, 2024 |

2023 ford super duty f 350 lariat 01
  • Ford has patented a new technology to make compressed gas tanks safer while increasing range.
  • The hinged gas tanks work by detaching in the event of a side impact, moving them under the vehicle to prevent damage.
  • Additional safety measures include tethers, stop limits, and using high-strength composite materials for tank construction.

Ford has filed a new patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, detailing a new innovation that aims to make compressed gas tanks safer and could increase driving range. Like the last hydrogen-related Ford patent CarBuzz discovered, this one appears to be destined for a truck like the F-250 or F-350 Super Duty pickups.

A big issue with vehicles that rely on compressed gas (whether we’re talking about hydrogen or natural gas) is that the tanks take up a lot of space, and as pressure vessels, their rupturing could be potentially catastrophic, especially in a car crash. Ford’s solution is to add additional tanks outside the vehicle’s chassis but within the body. Allow us to explain.

Hinged Gas Tanks

We won’t go into extreme detail about how exactly the patent works, but the gist of it is that a concave bracket between the frame rails would house the usual compressed gas tanks. These are safe, but they don’t provide enough capacity. Thus, Ford envisions adding another bracket – hinged, this time – to the outboard side of each longitudinal frame rail, upon which the additional tanks would sit.

In the event of a side impact, the bracket could detach, allowing the compressed gas tank to rotate around and under the frame so that it sits beneath the vehicle but off the ground. Most importantly, this would move it away from the source of the impact. As you can imagine, this would not be possible with a vehicle that has a low ride height.

Additional Safety Considerations

The idea above is that the compressed tank would be less likely to be punctured by an external force if it can be moved away from the source of the impact, but what if the collision is extreme? To avoid the tanks becoming detached from the vehicle, Ford details tethers that would ensure the tanks are always connected to the frame. It also makes provision for stop limits, using rubber or plastic stoppers to prevent the tanks from hitting the frame to which they are attached.

As a further precaution, the tanks would be made of carbon fiber or another high-strength composite material. Finally, Ford says that it could complicate the design by adding an electronic controller and sensors that communicate with the advanced driver assistance systems. With this, the tanks could be moved out of the way just as the impact happens, rather than relying on a break in the bracket to relocate them. Still, hydrogen has a long way to go.




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