Composite Cryotanks

Current project

VIP Snapshot

From aerospace fuel tanks to hydrogen transport, this project will explore the materials and techniques needed to create carbon fibre composite cryotanks. These have been identified as having great potential for space exploration as well as a key enabler for Australia to adopt a zero-emission hydrogen economy.

VIP ChallENG research goals

Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastics (CFRPs) have revolutionised travel and transport, enabling reliable and safe vehicles at a fraction of the weight of metallic alternatives. This project aims to disrupt one of the remaining strongholds for metallic structures in transport: low temperature tanks for cryogenic liquids such as LH2, LOX and LNG.  

If successful, these innovative composite cryotanks will enable affordable and accessible space flight and allow the creation of zero-emission hydrogen vehicles.

The key research and design challenges are: 

  • Suppressing microcracking failure modes in composites under low temperatures and thermal cycling 
  • Developing new material models and simulation strategies for low temperature CFRPs 
  • Predicting mechanical and thermal performance of composite structures under a range of mechanical and thermal conditions 
  • Developing automated and damage-free machining methods for composite structures 
  • Optimising cryogenic CFRP vessel design for a variety of common cryogenic liquids and vessel configurations from aerospace fuel tanks to road transport tank containers 

Research Areas:

  • Materials Science 
  • Composite Materials 
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 
  • Numerical Methods and Simulation
  • Materials Science 
  • Mechanical Engineering 
  • Aerospace Engineering 
  • Manufacturing Engineering 
  • Mechatronics Engineering
Composite Cryotanks

Explore the Composite Cryotanks Research Areas

Investigating the potential of composite cryotanks, below are the various aspects you can choose to explore.

  • Improving strength and toughness of CFRPs at low temperatures 
  • Nano-composites and their role in supressing thermal expansion and microcracking of CFRPs 
  • Low temperature testing and materials characterisation 
  • Investigating chemical and physical interactions between fluid, liner and CFRP at low temperatures
  • Mechanics of composite materials and their failure mechanisms at low temperatures 
  • Cryogenic material property prediction 
  • Modelling and reducing heat transfer in CFRPs 
  • Improving composite manufacturing techniques for pressure vessels (i.e. filament winding and automated fibre placement) 
  • Advanced cutting, trimming and finishing approaches (NC routing, multi-axis waterjet cutting, etc)
  • Design and optimisation of cryogenic CFRP vessels 
  • Modernising standards and regulations for novel material systems

Team Academic Lead