NCC’s Digital Design Test Accelerates Proof of Concept of Composite Pressure Vessels

Rendering of DETI hydrogen pressure vessel. Photo credit: National Composites Center (NCC).

The National Center for Composites (NCC, Bristol, UK) has successfully completed a proof of concept project that demonstrates the transformative impact of digital tools on the design process for the complex engineering industry.

Applying Multi-Disciplinary Optimization (MDO) techniques to a composite hydrogen pressure vessel identified an optimal design that would be five times faster than a traditional sequential approach, in addition to reducing the risk of human error in the data transfer process. Offering a new approach to redesigning and remaking sustainable products, the NCC says it enables increased agility and opportunities to innovate faster, which provides competitive advantage and engineering leadership.

“We have demonstrated the potential product, process and productivity efficiencies that can be achieved to accelerate digital engineering transformation,” said Marc Funnell, Director of Digital Engineering at NCC. “Through DETI and NCC Digital Engineering, our proof-of-concepts and testbeds help manufacturers innovate, scale, and de-risk rapidly configurable projects and industrial digital technologies before investment.”

Undertaken as part of Digital Engineering, Technology and Innovation (DETI)a strategic program of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), the project demonstrates the ability to address all design elements of a product at the same time, resulting in optimized design, reduced development costs, faster new product introduction and the ability to fine-tune specific features to meet the contrasting demands of different applications.

HEEDS MDO, a design space exploration and optimization software from the Simcenter portfolio of Siemens Digital Industries Software (Plano, TX, USA) was the selected platform for implementing the MDO process . Fifty designs were evaluated in less than two hours and an optimal solution was found among twenty-three feasible designs that satisfied all the stress requirements.

The NCC says proof of concept can be easily applied to other products and industries, adapting the automated design process to quickly explore and optimize designs that meet different objectives under a different set of constraints.

The NCC is part of a multi-partner collaboration called Hydrogen Innovation Initiative (HII), which brings together the strengths and capacities of High Value Manufacturing Catapult Network and Partner Innovation Centers to Accelerate Innovation, Develop UK Hydrogen Supply Chain Growth and Overcome Technology and Integration Challenges to Establish an Efficient Hydrogen Economy in the UK . This project particularly highlights the CCN’s credibility and expertise, offering R&D and technology transfer ranging from basic research to industrial application in four strategic areas: advanced composites, digital engineering, hydrogen and sustainability, to address complex global challenges.

More detailed information about the application of MDO to hydrogen pressure tank can be viewed in this accompanying case study.