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Hanwha Solutions acquires hydrogen-tank specialist Cimarron Composites

By Mary Page Bailey |

Hanwha Solutions (Seoul, South Korea) announced that it signed a deal to acquire a 100% stake in Cimarron Composites, an American high-pressure tank manufacturer. Cimarron Composites originally began as an internal venture at NASA in 2008 by Tom DeLay, 23-year veteran in materials science at NASA. DeLay holds several patents related to lightweight tanks, including patents for high-pressure tanks used in spacecraft.

Cimarron Composites became an independent company in 2015 and currently manufactures large hydrogen tanks and aerospace tanks in Huntsville, Alabama. It specializes in innovative high-pressure-tank technology that adds to the hydrogen value chain, including the ability to produce, store, and transport green hydrogen.

The acquisition of Cimarron Composites is part of Hanwha Solutions’ efforts to accelerate its expansion into the green-hydrogen industry. And in doing so, Hanwha Solutions is securing the technology to manufacture tanks for hydrogen tube trailers, ultra-high-pressure tanks for hydrogen filling stations, tanks for aerospace applications, as well as tanks for hydrogen vehicles.

“The acquisition is currently being reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. We intend to complete the acquisition by April of 2021,” said a spokesman for Hanwha Solutions. “Including the acquisition costs, we plan to invest at least USD 100 million in Cimarron Composites by 2025 to establish a strong foundation from which to develop our global hydrogen tank business.”

Hanwha Solutions intends to invest at least $100 million in Cimarron Composite by 2025. The investment includes funding for the expansion of Cimarron’s production facilities.

Cimarron Composites manufactures some of the strongest and safest hydrogen tanks available. The company’s Neptune tank is a 2,000-liter super-capacity Type-4 composite tank that can store hydrogen at 517 bars of pressure, higher than any other tank in its class. A 12-meter-long hydrogen tube trailer carrying Neptune tanks can transport up to 1,200 kilograms of hydrogen at once. This carrying capacity can greatly reduce costs, as Neptune tanks can transport four times more hydrogen than Type-1 steel tanks used on hydrogen tube trailers in Korea.

A key differentiating factor of Cimarron Composites’ tanks is that 100 percent of their contents can be emptied, leaving nothing behind. This is possible due to the company applying the design experience and materials it developed through its work on tanks used in aerospace applications. Normally, high-pressure tanks are prone to contracting and damaging themselves if their contents go down below 10 percent of their carrying capacity. Through research and development, Cimarron Composites addressed this issue to improve both safety and efficiency.

The company supplied prototype high-pressure tanks to SpaceX, the aerospace manufacturer and space transportation company, founded by Elon Musk, in 2010. Beginning in 2014, Cimarron Composites began supplying its tanks that are used in SpacesX’s Falcon 9 rockets.

After becoming an independent company in 2015, Cimarron Composites expanded into producing industrial tanks. Currently, the company manufactures hydrogen tanks, cryogenic-liquefied-gas tanks for use in space-launch vehicles, and compressed-natural-gas tanks to a variety of customers, including rocket manufacturers and industrial-gas companies.

In December 2019, Hanwha Solutions acquired TK-Fujikin Corporation’s hydrogen-tank business to enter the hydrogen-tank industry.

By purchasing TK-Fujikin, Hanwha Solutions can now produce tanks that can be used in hydrogen-powered drones and passenger cars for the Korean market. Overseas, Hanwha Solutions intends to use its Cimarron Composites acquisition to produce large-scale tanks for hydrogen tube trailers and tanks for hydrogen filling stations. Additionally, Hanwha Solutions plans to utilize Cimarron Composite’s technologies to expand into tanks for urban-air mobility vehicles, aerospace applications, and cargo ships carrying liquefied natural gas.

“Through this acquisition, we will advance our existing tank technology and expand our global tank business,” says Doo-Hyung Ryu, CEO of Hanwha Solutions’ Advanced Materials Division. “Not only will we play a key role in the growing hydrogen economy, we aim to become the global leader for high-pressure tanks by 2030.”

 

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