Composite Cryotanks

Current project

Applications now open for VIP 2022 via a wait-list!


Academics will be in touch throughout the year to arrange an interview 

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.

Composite Cryotanks

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 project will examine the following themes: 

Low temperature composite materials 

  • 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 

Modelling and simulating low temperature composite structures 

  • Mechanics of composite materials and their failure mechanisms at low temperatures 
  • Cryogenic material property prediction 
  • Modelling and reducing heat transfer in CFRPs 

Advanced manufacturing and finishing processes for composite structures 

  • 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 of cryogenic CFRP vessels 

  • Design and optimisation of cryogenic CFRP vessels 
  • Modernising standards and regulations for novel material systems 

Research, design or technical ChallENG

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 

Desired Background

All degrees are welcome however, students specialising in the below areas are encouraged to apply.

Desired Research Areas Desired Skills
  • Materials Science 
  • Composite Materials 
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 
  • Numerical Methods and Simulation 
  • Materials Science 
  • Mechanical Engineering 
  • Aerospace Engineering 
  • Manufacturing Engineering 
  • Mechatronics Engineering 


Team Academic Lead