3M, Hyundai to Develop Glass Bubbles for Storing Liquid Hydrogen

Hydrogen needs to be transported as a liquid and not a gas.

3 M Company Hd Hyundai Lh2 Carrier
3M/HD Hyundai Korea Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering

3M and HD Hyundai Korea Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (KSOE) have signed a joint research project agreement to develop large liquid hydrogen storage tanks using Glass Bubbles from 3M – a high-strength, low-density hollow glass microsphere. The collaborative research will focus on developing a high-performance vacuum insulation system for liquified hydrogen storage and transportation.

Hydrogen technology is a major factor for the future of clean energy, but the success of storing and transporting liquid hydrogen is key to its viability. Hydrogen needs to be transported as a liquid and not a gas, because it can be reduced to 1/800th the volume. However, hydrogen is liquefied at a very low temperature of minus 253 degrees Celsius, so a high-performance insulation system for the tanks and the main materials involved are critical.

"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 Dr. 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."

A signing ceremony was held at the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and was attended by Kim Sung-jun and Kwang pil Jang, along with 3M's Advanced Materials Division president Brian Coleman and global lab director Patrick Fischer.

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, the two companies hope to capture the initial volume of orders for high-value-added ships based on ultra-gap technologies in the rapidly approaching hydrogen society and further strengthen the competitiveness of the domestic shipbuilding industry.

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