AUG 2018


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NEWS 21 Agility Fuel Solutions, Salisbury, NC used in CNG and other alternative fuel systems are sure to be a key driver for increased carbon fiber (CF) demand. Compos- ites Forecasts and Consulting LLC (Mesa, AZ, US) predicts this demand will grow to 45 MT per annum by 2025 (see Learn More, p. 25) — second only to wind turbine blades for carbon fiber consumption. CW recently visited Agility Fuel Solutions' systems production facility in Salisbury, NC. Carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) cylinders are not made here. Instead, they are transformed. Before a vehicle can use them, a system for safe tank enclosure and fuel delivery must be designed, produced and installed. For CNG, this fuel system comprises typically 2-4 cylinders (but as many as 10 can be used), a structural chassis or rack to hold them, plus high and low pressure plumbing, fuel management and pressure regu- lation devices, safety equipment and crash protection (see Fig. 1, p. 22). CW got the following close look at how this is done as Agility NC hosted a partially virtual, partially actual walk-through, covering the complete process chain, from filament-wound composite cylinders in Nebraska to installed systems on commer- cial vehicles across the globe. Path to vertical integration First, there was history. Agility Fuel Solutions began in 1996, with the founding of FAB Industries in Ontario, Canada, which then expanded into the US. It merged with EnviroMECH Industries (Kelowna, BC, Canada and Long Beach, CA, US) in 2010 to form Agility Fuel Systems. By 2015, Agility had developed more than 125 fuel system designs for buses and trucks, many based on Type IV all-composite cylinders. It also had become Hexagon Composites' largest customer. Hexagon Composites also was becoming a powerhouse, consol- idating expertise and production capacity across all NGV and hydrogen fuel segments. It had begun in 1992 as Devold AMT, a Norwegian technical reinforcements producer, and had merged Nebraska to Norway to North Carolina Agility Fuel Solutions' composites expertise dates back to the 1963 founding of Brunswick Composites in Lincoln, NE, US (opposite page). Agility ships composite cylinders from Lincoln to its new facility in Salisbury, NC (at left). Source (here and p. 20) | Agility Fuel Solutions with Norwegian Applied Technology in 2000. Renamed Hexagon Composites, it had then acquired high-volume LPG cylinder producer Ragasco (Ragasco, Norway) in 2001, CNG cylinder supplier Raufoss Fuel Systems (Raufoss, Norway) in 2003 and CFRP expert/Type IV CNG cylinder manufacturer xperion Energy & Environment (Kassel, Germany) in 2016. Hexagon had also secured a presence in the US market, acquiring Lincoln Composites (Lincoln, NE, US) in 2005. is icon of filament winding contributed 50+ years of composites H 2 pressure vessels: An emerging target market Agility and Hexagon Composites share technology leadership in hydrogen storage, for which Agility is developing larger-diameter CFRP cylinders to be used in emerging longer-range trucking applications. Source | Agility Fuel Solutions

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