Harsco’s Structural Composites Industries (SCI) unit has been selected by Volvo to produce up to 5,000 lightweight composite fuel tanks this year for Volvo S80 series natural gas vehicle (NGV) automobiles, with the potential for follow-on orders as the NGV market continues to grow.
Announcing the contract, SCI general manager Ron Eickelman said, “We are honored to partner with Volvo’s world-renowned commitment to vehicle safety and performance. This award underscores our ability to design the safest, most weight-efficient fuel tank solutions available today and further enhances our leadership as a major NGV tank supplier to the automobile and bus industries.” Founded in 1971, SCI is the world’s leading producer of lightweight, filament-wound composite cylinders, pressure vessels and structures for gas storage.
Natural gas is seen as one of the best medium-term alternatives to gasoline for motor vehicles, reducing smog emissions to near zero and carbon dioxide emissions by about 20 percent, while retaining performance levels comparable to gasoline-fueled vehicles. Worldwide NGV users exceed one million vehicles, while US demand is also beginning to accelerate, with over 100,000 vehicles already on the road and more than 1,300 natural gas refueling stations in operation, according to industry estimates.
SCI’s composite-material technology is an ideal complement to NGV requirements. Because natural gas is stored in gas form, a larger fuel tank is required to achieve practical driving range. With a conventional tank, increasing size also increases weight. SCI’s filament-wound carbon fiber technology keeps weight to a minimum, while offering high shock resistance and long life.
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