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HD Hyundai partners with 3M to insulate liquid hydrogen storage tanks

March 12 ------ South Korean shipbuilding giant HD Hyundai and American multinational conglomerate 3M have signed an agreement to work on a joint research project focused on developing a high-performance vacuum insulation system for liquid hydrogen storage and transportation. The project will see 3M and HD Hyundai develop large liquid hydrogen storage tanks using a high-strength, low-density hollow glass microsphere called Glass Bubbles from 3M.

Hydrogen needs to be transported as a liquid and since it is liquefied at a very low temperature of -253 degrees Celsius a high-performance insulation system for the tanks and the main materials involved are critical, 3M explains. Under the agreement, the two companies will collaborate on insulation and construction workability evaluations, demonstrations, and classification approvals for the application of 3M’s Glass Bubbles to HD HHI’s advanced thermal insulation system for hydrogen storage tanks. 

Through this, 3M and HD Hyundai hope to capture the initial volume of orders for high-value-added ships based on ultra-gap technologies in the approaching hydrogen society and further strengthen the competitiveness of the domestic shipbuilding industry. “Through this agreement, we hope to successfully build a technology collaboration system that can lead the world in the field of liquified hydrogen storage and transportation,” said Kwang pil Jang, President of the Future Technology Research Institute. “We are very excited to collaborate with 3M, which currently produces one of the highest performing insulation products in the world. HD KSOE will surely lead the future hydrogen society through synergy with 3M based on the global top technology we have accumulated so far.”

3M’s Advanced Materials Division President Brian Coleman commented: “This collaboration is a major step forward in the pursuit of making hydrogen technologies available at scale. 3M’s glass bubbles offer significant advantages over traditional cryogenic insulation materials when it comes to thermal efficiency and durability. We’re thrilled to lend our expertise and world-class materials science in the hydrogen value chain.”

Back in 2023, HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (HD KSOE) and its subsidiaries HD Hyundai Heavy Industry (HD HHI) and Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) received approval in principle (AiP) from classification society DNV for their hydrogen system. Together with MOL and Woodside, HD KSOE is studying the development of shipping solutions for bulk marine transportation of liquid hydrogen, specifically the technology, safety, construction, operation, and economics of a carrier with 80,000 cubic meter tank capacity. The parties aim to have the vessel built and in operation by 2030.


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