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Seal manufacturer builds test laboratory for hydrogen seals

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Author: Michael Heeg

Date: 30. Jan. 2024

Completion of the hydrogen testing laboratory is already planned for the first quarter of 2024.
Source: Trelleborg Sealing Solutions
Seal manufacturer builds test laboratory for hydrogen seals

Trelleborg Sealing Solutions has broken ground on a new hydrogen seal testing laboratory in Fort Wayne. The building will expand the hydrogen testing capabilities of the manufacturer of polymer-based precision seals. The seal manufacturer wants to open it in the first quarter of 2024.

The laboratory strengthens the company’s position as a development partner for sealing solutions for the entire hydrogen value chain. They develop and test customized sealing solutions throughout the production of hydrogen, its storage, transport, and end use.

Too few test laboratories for hydrogen seals

A proprietary hydrogen-specific testing system is part of Trelleborg’s strategic goal. It will be possible to support customers in the development of hydrogen seals and address specific challenges.

Konrad Saur, Vice President of Innovation & Technology, explains: “Often the testing specifications for hydrogen are not known and, in the absence of established hydrogen testing methods, reference is made to established testing standards for certain niche applications or oil and gas applications. However, these tests are not representative of the requirements of hydrogen applications. That’s why Trelleborg has developed a hydrogen-specific testing system based on our expertise in hydrogen seal requirements.”

Simulation of a sudden pressure release

Testing capabilities offered in Fort Wayne, Indiana include hydrogen leak detection, dynamic testing and permeation testing, covering all critical criteria in hydrogen sealing. Trelleborg also plans to conduct tests that replicate challenging application conditions in rapid gas decompression, where hydrogen can be absorbed into a seal in a high-pressure system.

In addition, the new test center will simulate sudden pressure relief, whereby the gas trapped in the seal expands. This can cause gas to escape and the seal to blister and crack. It needs to always check and rule out such eventualities through extensive testing.

No dependence on external laboratories

In addition to the test capacities listed, Trelleborg establishes testing capabilities for pressures up to 15,000 PSI/1,034 bar and for all temperature ranges from cryogenic temperatures to over 180 °C as well as for thermal cycle tests at various pressure profiles.

John Mclaughlin, Director of Research and Development Services Americas, affirms: “Hydrogen, used as both energy storage and fuel, has the potential to reduce emissions on a large scale. The market need for hydrogen sealing components is therefore enormous and ranges from standard products to highly technical solutions where few in the industry have extensive experience.”

With the current testing capabilities and those that Trelleborg will bring into operation with the new center, the company can meet almost all hydrogen seal requirements. Trelleborg is ultimately not dependent on external laboratories, which is a strategic advantage.

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