HyperSizer Published Paper

"Spherical Cryogenic Hydrogen Tank Preliminary Design Trade Studies" (18 pages)


Steve Arnold, Brett Bednarcyk, Craig Collier, and Phil Yarrington


A structural analysis, sizing optimization, and weight prediction study was performed by Collier Research Corporation and NASA Glenn on a spherical cryogenic hydrogen tank. The tank consisted of an inner and outer wall separated by a vacuum for thermal insulation purposes. HyperSizer®, a commercial automated structural analysis and sizing software package was used to design the lightest feasible tank for a given overall size and thermomechanical loading environment. Weight trade studies were completed for different panel concepts and metallic and composite material systems. Extensive failure analyses were performed for each combination of dimensional variables, materials, and layups to establish the structural integrity of tank designs. Detailed stress and strain fields were computed from operational temperature changes and pressure loads. The inner tank wall is sized by the resulting biaxial tensile stresses which cause it to be strength driven, and leads to an optimum panel concept that need not be stiffened. Conversely, the outer tank wall is sized by a biaxial compressive stress field, induced by the pressure differential between atmospheric pressure and the vacuum between the tanks, thereby causing the design to be stability driven and thus stiffened to prevent buckling. Induced thermal stresses become a major sizing driver when a composite or hybrid composite/metallic material systems are used for the inner tank wall for purposes such as liners to contain the fuel and reduce hydrogen permeation.